University of Kansas

Women’s basketball player in Josh Jackson vandalism case treated unfairly by KU, father says

Kansas sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert
Kansas sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert AP

Hours after KU basketball star Josh Jackson allegedly damaged a woman’s car outside a Lawrence bar, a suspension came down.

But it was the woman, University of Kansas basketball player McKenzie Calvert, who was suspended, The Star has learned. She was banned from Allen Fieldhouse for two days and unable to study game film or work out with her teammates, according to her family.

Calvert was told by coach Brandon Schneider that her actions before the vandalism warranted the suspension. Before leaving the Yacht Club bar, Calvert threw a drink on one of Jackson’s teammates. She received that suspension, which KU has not acknowledged, about eight or nine hours after the Dec. 9 vandalism occurred, said Tim Calvert, McKenzie’s father.

“They are out in public and represent the university. I fully understood there was some consequences to what she did,” said Calvert, whose daughter had declined to comment before this story was published but spoke to reporters in Oklahoma City after KU lost in the Big 12 Tournament on Friday night. “My biggest issue was the quickness and severity of how she received her punishment. … And what about Josh?”

Tim Calvert said he and his family waited weeks to hear what punishment Jackson would receive. They’re still waiting.

In a phone interview with The Star days after Jackson was charged Feb. 24 with misdemeanor property damage, Calvert explained how he became frustrated with the athletic department’s handling of the situation and how his daughter has been treated differently than Jackson.

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Calvert, a father of two, traveled to Lawrence from Texas several times since the vandalism to check on his daughter, help handle car repairs and to talk with the Douglas County District Attorney and to police during its nine-week investigation.

When he saw no movement in the case, and feared his daughter was being mistreated, Calvert and his family hired an attorney specializing in Title IX, the federal law that protects against gender discrimination.

“I’m feeling there is retaliation going on and attempts to silence her,” he said.

Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director for public affairs, was asked Thursday about Calvert’s suspension — and several other questions regarding her discipline and treatment. Marchiony responded for the athletic department in a statement.

“Individual coaches are responsible for their team’s discipline, and these decisions are monitored and overseen by sport supervisors and, ultimately, the Director of Athletics,” Marchiony wrote. “We will not discuss specific individuals or any potential or completed disciplinary matters.

“Unfortunately, you are reporting as facts the description of an event from someone who was not present. The individuals involved know the avenues available to them to bring their concerns forward and we are confident in those procedures.”

After McKenzie Calvert called her father with news of her suspension, Tim Calvert contacted Schneider and complained that his daughter shouldn’t be benched for her next game because Jackson wouldn’t be suspended for the next men’s game.

The next day, Schneider told McKenzie Calvert her game suspension was rescinded. But because she hadn’t been allowed to practice with her team or watch film, she told her coach it wouldn’t be fair if she played. When she didn’t play, a KU athletics official told a reporter that Calvert wasn’t feeling well.

After Jackson was charged, KU men’s coach Bill Self released a statement saying Jackson had been disciplined “in-house” immediately after the incident. What that means, and what it included, wasn’t disclosed.

Self was responding to a question about the Jayhawks being “bombarded with things that were not related to basketball” while the Big 12 Conference race was still in question.

Jackson is one of KU’s top scorers and an expected high first-round NBA draft pick in June. He has started all 30 games this season. In a statement from his attorney, Jackson said he has apologized for his actions and has offered to pay for any damages he directly caused.

Before the vandalism, the women’s team had played eight games. A standout transfer from the University of Southern California and a top 20 player coming out of high school, Calvert led the team in scoring in five of those games. After Dec. 9, she would not play in six of the remaining 21 games and her time on the court decreased significantly.

Tim Calvert said he has never contacted Schneider about his daughter’s playing time and doesn’t feel it’s a parent’s role to do that. But he is concerned about her treatment.

Even after the game suspension was rescinded, McKenzie Calvert was kept from attending two strength and conditioning sessions with her team because members of the men’s team would be at the gym, her father said.

“It was like a continuation of her punishment,” Tim Calvert said.

He’s worried that his daughter paid a price for “calling the police on what turns out to be their star player” and for asking her coaches multiple times whether Jackson would be disciplined. Calvert said he asked his daughter to inquire when he couldn’t get any information himself from the university.

“It seems like every time she asked, she got no answer and, as time went on, she had less and less of a role on the team,” Calvert said. “McKenzie had spent from the time she was 5 years old to her age now, eating and living and breathing basketball and that is something that is a part of her. I just feel that was taken away.

“… I suppose what she should have done is simply called Bill Self from her car that night.”

Everything unfolded in the early morning hours of Dec. 9 as McKenzie Calvert and her friends left the Yacht Club.

That’s when she threw a drink on KU player Lagerald Vick, whom she had dated a year before. The Star reported in late January that a university investigation found Vick more than likely punched Calvert in the arm more than once and kicked her in the face in late 2015 and recommended he receive two years of school probation.

Jackson followed Calvert to her car and “engaged in an argument” with her, according to a release from Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

The Calvert family — including McKenzie — released a statement to The Star. After she left the bar, Jackson “followed her shouting obscenities as she walked through the Yacht Club’s parking lot, across a two-lane street, and into the parking lot of another business where her car was parked front end first against a parking barrier.”

“She could not drive the car forward due to a parking barrier and could not reverse because Jackson was moving from front to back vandalizing her car. Other KU men and women players exited the Yacht Club finding Josh Jackson kicking the car.”

Some of the athletes stopped Jackson, according to the family’s statement, and the men’s players left the scene. Calvert called 911. According to the family, a member of the women’s coaching staff was there at the time of the 2 a.m. call and advised Calvert against alerting police. Lawrence Police denied The Star’s request for a recording of that 911 call.

A police report later showed the damage amounted to $2,991 and included a smashed windshield where someone is believed to have thrown a rock, brick or piece of hard debris. That person has not been identified and though the family anticipated that the case would remain open, it is now closed, according to police.

The district attorney’s office said it charged Jackson with a misdemeanor because it couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he caused all the damage to the door and taillight. The district attorney’s statement also said there were “other unidentifiable individuals damaging the vehicle.”

Tim Calvert said he advised his daughter the morning of Dec. 9 to tell Schneider what happened. “Don’t leave anything out,” he said he told her. He also told her that throwing the drink at Vick was wrong and that she could face legal ramifications for that.

He ended up talking to Schneider himself after he learned his daughter was suspended and that it would include the Dec. 11 game against Rhode Island. Calvert said he asked Schneider why his daughter was going to be suspended for throwing a drink even though Vick wasn’t publicly suspended a year earlier after the domestic violence incident.

Vick did miss two games in December 2015, but at the time Self told reporters that Vick was ill and “he’s not 100 percent.”

“(Schneider) said, ‘Well, Mr. Calvert, the difference is, what McKenzie did was in public and what Lagerald did last year was in private,’” Calvert said.

Calvert was further frustrated by Schneider’s comments.

“What Josh did to her car was in public,” he told The Star.

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.

Immediately after Jackson was charged, social media lit up. At one point, a Twitter account associated with Jackson’s mother, Apples Jones, included this post:

“Calvert was ticketed for a hit & run in aug that caused much damage & didn’t fix her car before the night in ? Hum.”

Efforts to reach Jones were unsuccessful.

Asked about the post, Tim Calvert said, “I do not comment on social media commentary.”

McKenzie Calvert received a ticket in late August after she hit a parked car. She later reported it and was given a citation for “leaving the scene.” The Star obtained a copy of the ticket from Lawrence Municipal Court and the diversion agreement she entered into for the traffic violation.

The Star has seen repair receipts of the damage to Calvert’s car in August and September. So has the detective investigating the vandalism outside the Yacht Club, Tim Calvert said.

That detective asked for the receipts in early February, Calvert said, before the Dec. 9 case was sent to the prosecutor’s office.

“The detective told me and my wife that an assistant coach (with the women’s team) called because they wanted to make sure that the cost associated with the previous damage did not contribute to the cost of the vandalism damage,” Calvert said. “Again, they (KU) were more worried about Josh Jackson than they were my daughter.”

The incident outside the Yacht Club was eventually reported to KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access (IOA), which handles Title IX complaints. It is university policy not to comment on IOA investigations or whether they are ongoing or completed.

An attorney for Jackson issued a statement Friday to The Star.

“Josh attempted to intervene to help and protect a teammate and unfortunately the matter escalated,” it read in part. “Josh has apologized for his actions and has also offered to pay for any damages that he directly caused. He looks forward to moving past this so that he is able to focus on school and basketball.”

Since the Dec. 9 vandalism, and after the suspension and missed games, Tim Calvert said McKenzie’s teammates have been extremely supportive of her. The ones there that December night tried to help her and intervene when he said Jackson was kicking the car door.

“Those players are wonderful,” he said. “I know a lot of them personally, they are wonderful kids.”

His daughter said she has apologized to Vick in person for throwing the drink but that Jackson hasn’t personally apologized to her. She continues to focus on her basketball career and education, Tim Calvert said.

For him, the focus is on the university and what he perceives as a lack of fairness. He’s called the Big 12 office and Kansas legislators to share his concerns.

“For me, it all boils down to my daughter’s treatment vs. Josh’s,” Calvert said. “She’s a young lady, he is a young man, and they were treated differently for the same incident.”

The Star’s Jesse Newell contributed to this report.

Laura Bauer: 816-234-4944, @kclaurab

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