Bob Lutz

Notion of no state tournaments is preposterous

Budget cuts always force difficult, painful decisions and it's certainly that way for schools.

I was amazed that administrators in the newly-formed Central Kansas League are suggesting eliminating postseason events in high school sports for a couple of years as a way to cut costs. Amazed because they must know there's no way in the world people will go for that, not even in a struggling economy.

No state tournaments?

How about we eliminate the superintendents who came up with that idea? That would save a boat load of money.

This matter is to be taken seriously and suggestions such as eliminating state tournaments do nothing but trivialize.

Cuts are inevitable in athletics, but can we please have a serious discourse about where cuts can realistically be made?

It's a mind-boggling question because nobody wants their sport touched. But instead of considering just cuts, I think administrators and the Kansas State High School Activities Association should ask themselves whether potential revenues are being capitalized upon.

KSHSAA executive director Gary Musselman was quoted in an Eagle story last week saying that his organization will lose somewhere close to $325,000 in this fiscal year, partially because of slumping attendance at state basketball tournaments.

Why is attendance slumping? Could it be because the KSHSAA does little to promote the events? Or make them special?

Most high school state tournaments in Kansas lack pizazz. The only state meets that feel special are track and field and wrestling and they have one thing in common: schools from more than one class participate. Of course, the state track and field meet, coming up next month at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium, involves athletes from all six classifications.

I would feel more comfortable about cuts in athletic competitions if I felt like the KSHSAA and administrators across Kansas were doing everything they could to promote and market their state tournaments. Hopefully, people will take a look at ways to increase revenues before they start slashing athletic budgets across the state.

One thing is for sure: The notion of not having state tournaments is the craziest thing I've ever heard. If you or me suggested such a thing, we would be taken away in white gowns.

* Even though charges won't be filed against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in his latest brush with the law, the NFL is almost certainly going to punish Big Ben with a suspension.

And it should.

Versions of the story about Roethlisberger's involvement with a 20-year-old coed in a suburban Atlanta bar last month have come out recently and while those giving them weren't under oath, they have clout.

Roethlisberger is alleged by witnesses to have had the young woman taken into a small rest room where, according to her, she was raped. She admits she was drunk, but insists she told Roethlisberger "no" on several occasions.

Presumably, she is not pressing charges because she doesn't want to become involved legally in a he said-she said confrontation and the evidence gathered by prosecutors was not strong enough to warrant charges.

The NFL, no doubt, will consider Roethlisberger's past _ he's facing a civil suit in Lake Tahoe from a woman who claims he raped her in 2008. No criminal charges were brought in that case, either.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said Roethlisberger has violated the league's conduct policy and it appears a suspension is forthcoming.

But what about the Steelers? They jettisoned Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick last week following a series of problems and multiple Pittsburgh players say they were told before a recent practice that the team now has a zero-tolerance policy regarding misconduct.

Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh and is among the NFL's elite quarterbacks. But has his level of misbehavior risen to a level that makes it difficult if not impossible for the Steelers to keep him? Maybe so.

* In case you've been in a cave the past few weeks, the NFL draft is coming up Thursday. It's a three-day event now because we just can't get enough of professional teams picking players we've never heard of in the fifth and sixth rounds.

I'm a draft guy _ kind of. I like the first half of the first round, which means I'm zoned in for 16 picks or so. Problem is, there are 224 picks in the draft, which will conclude Saturday.

I do have a couple draft predictions, though:

Which drafted player will have the best career? Probably some offensive lineman from a Sun Belt school who is taken in the fourth round. But I'll go with Tennessee safety Eric Berry, who should be on the board when the Kansas City Chiefs pick in the fifth spot. There is talk that the Chiefs are interested in trading that pick to gain draft choices. I would advise against it.

Who do the St. Louis Rams take with the first pick? The Rams have a clouded ownership picture, which clouds what the team will do in the draft. And don't forget, this is the Rams. They could take almost anyone. But if they don't go with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, I'll be surprised.

* Oregon, still looking for a basketball coach after being turned down by Missouri's Mike Anderson, has just named me as a candidate. I thought everybody wanted some of Phil Knight's money.

* Yes, I watched every pitch of Saturday's 20-inning game between the Mets and Cardinals and I have the bed sores to prove it. (What an unpleasant image, sorry).

Anyway, I was thoroughly entertained despite the Cardinals' 2-1 loss.

* As long as LeBron James has been around, he's got to be 30, right? Maybe even 40.

He's 25. Just looked that up and couldn't believe it.

* Congratulations to former Wichita State assistant basketball coach Tad Boyle, who was named as Colorado's coach Monday after four seasons at Northern Colorado.

Trust me, handing out congratulations to someone who has just been named Colorado's coach doesn't come easily. The Buffaloes have been the weakest link in the Big 12 (and before that the Big 8) forever, it seems.

I was somewhat surprised Boyle was offered the job; I figured Colorado was going to give it to current assistant Steve McClain, who was the favorite of current CU players. Hopefully, Boyle doesn't lose disgruntled players because Colorado actually has some decent talent returning from a 15-16 team, one that pushed Kansas and Kansas State in games played in Boulder last season.

* A year ago, Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall was sky high on recruit Kenny Manigault, a 6-foot-4 guard from North Charleston, S.C. On Monday, Marshall granted Manigault his release so he can transfer to another school after a disappointing freshman season.

That's the world of college basketball in which we live.

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