Yael T. Abouhalkah

$5-million-man Bill Self endorses costly dorms, and Kansas Regents obey

Updated: 2014-01-16T02:23:38Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Highly successful and highly paid Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has spoken out on the need to build luxurious dorms for the “student-athletes” who play basketball for him and for the school’s women’s program.

And on Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents dutifully obeyed the $5-million-a-year coach, endorsing a plan to build a $17.5 million apartment complex. The dorm will be privately funded, but be on the public’s campus and be part of a public university’s amenities to offer other students (though not many).

The Fieldhouse Apartments could house up to 32 men’s and women’s basketball players and about an equal number of “regular” students.

“...Housing, where our student-athletes reside now, is way, way, way, way behind what the competitors would be housing their student-athletes in, in a big way,” Self said recently.

He also added that the players “deserve to have a situation to live in which they can be monitored, in which they can obviously have more security.”

So it will be interesting to see how much power Bill Self has to control who, exactly, gets within a few dozen feet of his precious players at the apartment complex when it’s built at a cost of $265,000 a person — or four times as much as KU is spending on a couple of new dorms for the ordinary students it’s taking tuition from.

The regents approved the plan partly because KU fans think they are in some kind of arms race to attract students to the university.

That is preposterous.

Only one other school — the University of Kentucky — keeps getting mentioned as a school that has gone this far overboard in pampering its basketball players. There’s no real “race” on right now. But there soon could be, thanks to the regents’ action on Wednesday.

In addition, the University of Kansas remains a tremendously popular place to play for young athletes. Just this week, Allen Fieldhouse topped a list of the best college arenas. Yes, money was spent to make that a nice play for the players.

Finally, speaking of Bill Self, doesn’t KU pay him that outrageous sum of money to coach college basketball players precisely because he is such an excellent coach (he led the Jayhawks to a national title in 2008)?

And because of Self’s reputation, don’t lots of great players want to come to KU?

Yes, they do, as Self’s success shows every year in getting some of the top players. (See: Andrew Wiggins.)

The furor over the dorms — and some of the excessive campaigning for it by KU basketball fans — is yet another indication that we’ve gone too far in bowing to the demands of sports on the nation’s campuses.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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