The most anticipated game of the week in college basketball had an unfulfilling and concerning postscript.
Third-ranked Kansas beat second-ranked Baylor 73-68 on Wednesday night, and improved to 20-2. In all likelihood, the victory will help the program capture, at the very least, a share of the Big 12's regular-season title for the 13th consecutive season. Bill Self has been at Kansas throughout this dynastic run.
But there was a subtext to the game that darkened the victory. Earlier this week, the Kansas City Star reported that current KU player Lagerald Vick was subject to an investigation in late 2015 that tied Vick to an alleged domestic violence incident against a female KU student. Per the Star's report, the university's investigation led to a suggested two-year probation period for Vick by the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access.
Self had never spoken of the case before; it wasn't public knowledge until the Star's story exposed it. Wednesday night's game was the first time Self was made available to the media. He read from a prepared statement -- an unusual move for Self, who is a natural, off-the-cuff quote -- and prefaced his statement by saying, "You guys can believe that, or choose not to, but that's the fact" when stating that this was the only time he could, briefly and vaguely, comment on the Vick situation.
Here's video of Self's delivering the statement.
Bill Self on the Lagerald Vick story first reported by the Kansas City Star. pic.twitter.com/peIq6fRbzP— Kevin Romary (@KevinRomary) February 2, 2017
Self's uneasy recitation set up a weird scene. The most powerful public figure on campus referenced a mandate from an unnamed higher power. Using this mandate as cover, Self obfuscated the matter by saying that he could not speak about a university investigation, no matter if an investigation was ongoing, or even if one had ever taken place.
Student privacy laws are important. They can also serve as windshields for coaches to not discuss potentially flammable cases regarding athletes.
Vick did play on Wednesday, logging 14 minutes off the bench. He did not score.
Vick has not been charged with a crime. Even after Self's statement Wednesday, it remains unclear if he was ever punished by Self or Kansas' athletic department. In most cases, when a player is serving a suspension, schools alert the media or public by way of a simple, concise statement -- even if the reason for that suspension is not made public.
No such release has ever been made regarding Vick.
Kansas has continued to remain at the forefront of national discussion in college basketball -- not merely because of its glimmering record, but because of off-court stories. There is an ongoing investigation into the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl at a dorm that, in part, houses the Kansas basketball team, among other students. No players have been named as suspects in the case, but police have interviewed five Jayhawks players as means of building the case.
Amid that investigation, currently suspended Kansas sophomore Carlton Bragg was charged earlier this week with possession of drug paraphernalia. On Wednesday, Bragg was offered what's known as a "diversion" on his charges. Details of the decision were not made public, but it gives Bragg the opportunity to have the charge dropped against him if he meets the qualifications laid out to him by the local court.