Higher education experts believe that COVID-19 could bring many colleges and universities to their knees, but no one thought that the first major casualty would be the University of Kansas (KU), the state’s flagship institution.
At an April 2nd press conference, KU Chancellor Doug Girod announced that the University will close permanently at the end of the current academic year. The reason: the NCAA’s cancellation of the 2020 men’s basketball tournament, which meant that the school’s #1-ranked Jayhawks would not get a chance to win the national championship.
Red-eyed and choked with emotion, Girod spoke without notes:
“Our record was 28 and 3 when the season was stolen from us. This loss has simply been too much for our community to bear. In Kansas, college basketball is all we have. We’ve got no Major League baseball team, no NFL team, no NBA team, no NHL team. Nothing! If it weren’t for Dorothy saying ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto’ in The Wizard of Oz, nobody would know our state even exists.
“We offered all of our players substantial financial incentives, siphoned from the budget of KU’s Office of Gender Equity, to come back next year, but as a group they have decided to enter the NBA draft. Without them, who knows when we would be good enough to return to the Final Four? Perhaps never.
“Our student body is bereft. They live for March Madness. KU’s Counseling Center is seeing a record number of cases of self-flagellation. Some students have even tried to take their own lives by attaching themselves to basketballs with duct tape and jumping into nearby Clinton Lake, not realizing that the balls would keep them afloat rather than sink them. Now their humiliation is total.
“At an all-campus assembly immediately following the cancellation of the tournament, I tried to remind everyone that what’s important in life is the journey, not the destination, and that they should focus on the team’s glorious trip to 28 and 3. Students and faculty responded by screaming ‘BULLSHIT!’
“I have to admit, I agree with them. I feel so, so empty. At this point, I think I can best fulfill my role as Chancellor by shepherding our beloved institution into the hereafter with dignity. There are plenty of other schools in Kansas where students can get a………can get a………actually, let me get back to you on that.
“Soar toward the light, Jayhawks, soar toward the light!”
Plans to transform the KU campus into an Amazon Fulfillment Center are pending. Tenured full professors will be given preference when hiring begins.