University of Kansas

KU basketball star Josh Jackson won’t miss games after misdemeanor property damage charge

KU freshman basketball player Josh Jackson
KU freshman basketball player Josh Jackson KU Athletics

Two days after the University of Kansas men’s basketball team won its 13th consecutive conference title, one of the Jayhawks’ star players has been charged with allegedly damaging the car of a women’s basketball player in early December.

Josh Jackson, 20, was charged Friday in Douglas County District Court with one count of criminal damage to property, less than $1,000, which is a Class B non-person misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail. Jackson later issued a statement in which he said he was sorry and that he had “offered to pay for any damage that I directly caused.”

Later Friday, KU coach Bill Self said he had already disciplined Jackson for his actions that led to the charge and called him “a great ambassador for the university.” Jackson has started all 28 KU games this season. Since the incident, however, the women’s player who reported it has seen her minutes per game nearly cut in half.

“We applied the appropriate in-house discipline immediately after; that discipline will remain in house,” Self said in a release, not elaborating on the nature of the discipline.

The Star reported earlier this month that Jackson and teammate Lagerald Vick were of interest in the case. The Lawrence Police Department submitted its case to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office on Feb. 9. Vick, who was with Jackson the morning of the incident, was listed as a witness on an information page about the charge filed with the court. Vick was not charged.

Several other witnesses are listed, including the victim — KU sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert — and two other members of the women’s team. Calvert’s father, Tim, was not present but is also listed as a witness because he owns the car, a 2016 Ford.

Calvert is the same female KU student who a university investigation found Vick likely committed domestic violence against more than a year ago.

Lawrence police were called to a parking lot near the Yacht Club, which is near West Sixth and Wisconsin streets, just before 2 a.m. Dec. 9, according to an incident report obtained by The Star.

A news release from Branson’s office details some of what happened in those early morning hours. Calvert reportedly threw a drink on a male patron while leaving the bar. The Star has learned that the patron was Vick.

Jackson followed Calvert to her car, according to the release, and they argued. Witnesses saw Jackson kick the driver’s door of Calvert’s car and kick a rear taillight.

The Star has learned that Calvert — a standout on the women’s team — was in the driver’s seat while Jackson kicked her car.

Investigators have interviewed several people who witnessed the reported crime. A police report categorized the $2,991 in total damage to the car as a felony. But Friday’s release listed the damage at a higher amount, $3,150.45.

“Felony criminal damage (damage in excess of $1,000) was not charged because the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all the damage to the door and taillight were caused by Jackson,” the release said.

According to the release, Calvert told police her car had been damaged by a known person and others she could not identify. Witnesses at the scene also couldn’t identify others who also may have damaged the car. When asked if Lawrence police were still investigating whether others may have damaged the car, Sgt. Amy Rhoads said the case was closed.

The Star has requested the probable cause affidavit in the case but a judge has yet to rule if it will be released to the public.

A phone number for Calvert has been disconnected. Calvert’s father said he had no comment and referred questions to his attorney, whose office said he would have no comment.

Jackson is scheduled to be arraigned in Douglas County District Court at 3 p.m. April 12, seven business days after the NCAA championship game. In his statement, Jackson said he was “very sorry that this whole situation occurred.”

“I was trying to help a teammate and unfortunately the matter escalated,” his statement continued. “There were many other people involved and I have already offered to pay for any damage that I directly caused. I am anxious to resolve this and focus on school and basketball.”

Self said in his release that Jackson “has regrets for his actions.”

“He and I both know he could have exercised better judgment for this avoidable situation,” Self said, “but I’m pleased with how he’s accepted responsibility. This does not take away from the fact that he has been a great ambassador for this university. He will learn from this incident and be better for it.”

Jackson is a 6-foot-8 freshman from Detroit who came to KU last fall as the nation’s top-ranked high school recruit and is the second-leading scorer for the Jayhawks, who clinched at least a tie for the Big 12 Conference title Wednesday night and play Saturday at Texas.

After that, KU has two more regular-season games, including Monday’s Senior Night game at Allen Fieldhouse, before the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center and the NCAA Tournament.

Last Monday, Jackson became the first KU player to be chosen Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for the sixth time. He is one of 20 finalists for the Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top college men’s basketball player.

Meanwhile, Calvert’s playing time has diminished since she reported the car vandalism to police.

Before the vandalism, the KU women’s team played eight games and Calvert led the Jayhawks in scoring in five. Her average playing time was 28.1 minutes.

Calvert, from Schertz, Texas, transferred to Kansas in 2015 after playing one season at the University of Southern California. She was ranked as the 16th-best player in the nation out of high school by ESPN’s HoopGurlz.

Since Dec. 9, she has not played in four games and her playing time has been cut nearly in half to an average of 15.6 minutes per game. Two days after the vandalism, during the Dec. 11 game against Rhode Island, Calvert didn’t play.

After the game, a KU athletics representative said “she’s not feeling well,” according to a Topeka Capital-Journal correspondent.

Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director for public affairs, did not respond to questions emailed to him Friday about the decrease in Calvert’s playing time and whether she had been suspended. On Saturday, when the questions were emailed again, he sent a short response.

"We don't talk about an individual player's playing time," he wrote.

When asked again if he could address whether Calvert was suspended, Marchiony said no.

An assistant communications director for the KU women's basketball team contacted by The Star on Saturday said KU coach Brandon Schneider would only be talking about Saturday's game against Kansas State. She referred all questions back to Marchiony.

After Saturday's game, Schneider was asked about Calvert and said: "I don't know that I would ever comment on any one individual's playing time."

The Star also asked Friday for a comment from KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and did not get a response.

The off-campus vandalism investigation is the latest incident involving KU men’s basketball players to recently come to light.

Josh Jackson was charged with misdemeanor property damage Feb. 24. Here's a summary of recent events involving the KU men's basketball team and McCarthy Hall, where the players reside on campus.

Three weeks ago, The Star reported the findings of the KU domestic violence investigation on Vick that was completed in January 2016. The investigation, conducted by KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, found Vick likely hit Calvert in the arm multiple times and kicked her in the face in December 2015.

University investigations use preponderance of evidence standards — which means the matter in dispute is more likely than not to be true — to determine if violations of school policy occurred. It is not known if a report was filed with campus police but Vick was not charged with a crime.

KU’s IOA office recommended Vick be put on school probation for two years. It is not clear whether Vick was put on probation or, if he was, if he is still on it. Vick missed two games in December 2015 because of illness, Self said at the time. After The Star’s story was published earlier this month, Self read a prepared statement that said he cannot comment on university investigations or whether they have occurred.

“I haven’t been made aware of anything,” Self said. “So that’s where that is, and that’s the last time and the only thing that I will say concerning that, because I (have) basically been told that’s all that can be said.”

In general, university officials said probation, which is imposed by KU Student Affairs, is meant to be rehabilitative and not punitive for the student.

So while it could mean suspension of some privileges, it could also require a student to participate in a counseling session. The IOA office recommended Vick attend classes in anger management and healthy relationships.

The university, in January 2016, did not find that Calvert violated school policy, according to information obtained by The Star. But IOA did recommend that she attend classes on healthy relationships and be prohibited from all university housing except for her own residence. The office also recommended that Vick be prohibited from all university housing except his own.

Another player on the men’s team also faced scrutiny in separate incidents, though he has returned to the court.

On Jan. 26, sophomore Carlton Bragg was indefinitely suspended from competition by Self for an undisclosed team rules violation. On Feb. 6, Self ended Bragg’s suspension after three games.

Bragg, a sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio, was charged in City of Lawrence Municipal Court with possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, but reached a diversion agreement that would dismiss the charge. KU police seized two glass smoking devices with residue in a search days after a reported rape of a 16-year-old girl in December at McCarthy Hall, where the men’s basketball team and other male students live. Police said there was “no indication that the drug paraphernalia is related to the sexual assault case.”

KU police are still investigating the reported rape and two other crimes — contributing to a child’s misconduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Police have not released any information about a suspect in those three offenses, including whether the suspect resides at McCarthy or attends KU.

Also, Bragg was twice accused of battery last fall against two different women, neither of whom are the victim in the car vandalism. In a September case brought to light last month, prosecutors did not charge Bragg because of insufficient evidence after reviewing a police report from McCarthy Hall.

Self previously suspended Bragg on Dec. 9 after he was charged with misdemeanor battery in Douglas County District Court. Bragg missed one game and was reinstated after the charge was dismissed Dec. 14 and the woman who accused him, Saleeha Soofi, was charged instead after prosecutors reviewed surveillance video. The Star made a request to obtain the video through the court clerk that was denied. The video has not yet been shown in open court.

Soofi has pleaded not guilty and her hearing to set a trial date is scheduled for March 6.

Laura Bauer: 816-234-4944, @kclaurab

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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