LAWRENCE — Kansas coach Mark Mangino responded Wednesday night to the accusation that he poked senior linebacker Arist Wright in the chest at a recent practice by saying that he has not done anything that's inappropriate.
"I run this program with a lot of integrity," Mangino said. "I have been in this conference for nearly 20 years, and what I can tell you is that our coaching intensity is not largely different from the rest of the Big Eight and Big 12 teams I've observed."
KU athletic director Lew Perkins took Wright's account of the incident seriously enough that he has launched an internal review into Mangino's treatment of student-athletes. In a meeting Monday night, Perkins invited players to provide further information. Count former KU running back Jocques Crawford, who transferred to Tennessee Tech this summer because of issues with Mangino, among a group of former players who wish they could be heard.
Crawford spent Wednesday afternoon airing his concerns on his Twitter page under the username JocCrawford. He described a similar pattern of behavior that was detailed to Tuesday evening by former players. Crawford said Mangino was often "disrespectful."
"Talking down on us, talking about our personal lives, throwing where we come from in our faces and making us feel bad emotionally is wrong," Crawford said on Twitter.
The Eagle contacted Crawford later Wednesday night to inquire further and confirm his identity as the person posting on Twitter. Crawford said Mangino "stereotyped" players who were from the inner city.
"He would always say things like, 'You're not back home with the homies in the hood,' " Crawford said. "I have to take offense to that. What do you have against guys coming from bad neighborhoods and trying to better themselves by going to college?"
Two other former players, who requested anonymity because of fear of repercussions, also said Mangino made personal attacks.
"A lot of people you try telling it to, they're just like, 'Oh, you're just (complaining) about your playing time' and this and that," a source said. "And it's like, no, it's not even about that. It's just about blatant disrespect."
Mangino spoke after Wednesday's practice but could not be reached for comment later to react specifically to the accusations made by former players.
KU's current players still have a game to play Saturday night at No. 3 Texas and another after that against Missouri. The Jayhawks (5-5) can still qualify for a bowl game with one win. KU senior captain Kerry Meier said Wednesday night that the timing of this investigation has been frustrating.
"I'm sitting here in my senior season, two weeks left, and we got a little problem," Meier said. "Throughout the whole season, I never really sensed any anger and tension between Coach and players. For somebody to step up and say something, it kind of surprised me. The individual that came and said something, he stepped up and made a statement."
Mangino has said that he has not lost his players, and Meier sounded extremely loyal.
"He's taken this program to new and great heights that I don't think anybody ever imagined," Meier said. "If they're looking to bring somebody in to try and turn this program around again, it's going to be a tough, tough challenge."
Mangino was asked if he felt his job was on the line and said he was only concerned about the Longhorns. Then he was asked if he expected to be on the sideline at Texas Memorial Stadium.
"Well, you bet," Mangino said.
All of those issues are currently in the hands of KU associate athletics director for risk management Lori Williams, who will be handling the internal review. Williams was hired in September to ensure effective processes in compliance, student services and academic support. Before coming to KU, Williams was associate director of enforcement at the NCAA.
KU associate athletics director for external relations Jim Marchiony would not offer a timetable for the internal review other than saying, "she's going to do it as quickly as she can."
Until then, all Mangino can do is what he's done for eight years — focus on football.
"Whatever their process is, I respect it," Mangino said. "I'm waiting for their results."