LAWRENCE — Fights between members of the University of Kansas football and basketball teams over the past two days may have shocked fans of the nationally-ranked programs, but former players say the hostilities are nothing new.
The latest fights, which broke out Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, were the culmination of a turf war that has been simmering for years, sources close to both programs said Wednesday.
The sources said that football and basketball players have been involved in numerous altercations with each other during the last five years. They just never went public — until now.
“It’s always been a feud between basketball and football players,” said a recently graduated former KU football player who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s been an ongoing thing.”
A recently departed former KU basketball player had the same experience.
“It’s about who’s more popular on campus with the girls and stuff like that,” said the player, who also requested anonymity. “It’s escalated really bad now, but it’s always been there.”
There’s certainly no hiding it now, not after a rash of violent behavior broke out in the middle of campus at two high-profile locations during an ugly 24-hour period.
When the chaotic events had ended, basketball guard Tyshawn Taylor had dislocated a finger while throwing a punch and announced it to the world on his Facebook page; basketball players had been escorted from a conflict in a van provided by athletic department personnel; and athletic director Lew Perkins had brought the teams together for a meeting in an effort to put the drama behind them.
Sources indicate it might not be that easy. The former football player said the tensions between the No. 20 football team and presumptive No. 1 basketball team have been even more evident since last spring, when a fight between members of the two programs began at a campus bar and moved to Jayhawker Towers, where the athletes stay, after the offending players were kicked out of the bar.
Those tensions came to a “boiling point,” the source said, on Tuesday night when reports of a fight between players first came across police scanners.
The altercation, which took place in the parking lot outside the Burge Union near Jayhawker Towers, began because Taylor and football cornerback Anthony Davis had issues relating to a woman, the source said. According to a police report narrative, a witness stated that members of the two teams were “baiting” each other, and it escalated “into taunting and shouting and then fighting.” Witnesses said about 100 people were gathered in the parking lot.
Officers were unable to identify the individuals who were doing the fighting, but Taylor announced his involvement on his Facebook page early Wednesday morning.
“I got a dislocated finger ..from throwing a punch …,” Taylor wrote.
Taylor was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Tuesday night and released, but the drama between the football and basketball programs was only beginning.
Police were called to Jayhawker Towers later Tuesday night. And then around 10 a.m. Wednesday, police scanners lit up again with reports of another fight between players outside Wescoe Hall near a common area called “Wescoe Beach,” a popular spot where many students congregate.
The school newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, reported on its Web site Wednesday afternoon that witnesses said players were shouting racial slurs at each other and throwing punches.
Read the full story at KansasCity.com.