Fans deserve more respect following Chris Jones’ ouster

UofL fence

Chris Jones is apparently seeking professional help for dealing with his explosive temper, also known as anger issues. Still no official word from the University of Louisville about what actually went down, and that’s too bad.

Concealing the cause of his surprising dismissal behind a veil of secrecy leaves fans and antagonists no option but to speculate on the reasons. Allowing that to occur only worsens the situation in a community sometimes defined by divided loyalties.

Fans deserve a better explanation than "No Comment" when negative incidents affect the team. They are heavily invested in the program, not just financially, but emotionally and physically affected as well.

People who support UofL basketball, whether it be with their donations, ticket purchases or simply being fans, deserve a better explanation than “No Comment” when negative incidents affect the team. They are heavily invested in the program, not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well.

The curt response probably comes straight from Rick Pitino who, like most coaches, considers the team more his business than that of anyone else. If Pitino were speaking just for himself, the response might be understandable, even if not appropriate. The problem is much bigger than just the team, affecting public perceptions of the university.

The university has a broader responsibility to supporters of the school, showing that it recognizes their concerns and appreciates the loyalty. That doesn’t mean the school has to get into the minute details of what occurred. There are privacy guidelines, which are designed to protect the reputations of individuals, even if these same guidelines may make the perception worse for the people involved.

No fan should be told by a talking head on a sports talk show that it’s none of their business what a student athlete was involved in, as if people shouldn’t care about the conduct of athletes who represent their school.

A simple statement like “Chris Jones has been dismissed from the University of Louisville basketball team because of an off-campus incident. Privacy rules prohibit further details,” would have gone a long way to alleviating the all the conjecture and frustration of UofL fans.  Not completely but better than nothing.

Instead, fans are compelled to go to social media, including Twitter and Facebook, message boards and blogs, where they are subjected to rampant speculation and misleading information from their own fan base and deliberate falsehoods and hate from an opposing fan base. All the while, the student’s reputation continues to be hammered.

The dismissal of student athletes at UofL happens. The University needs to have a plan in place to better manage the fallout, and could avail itself of some good public relations pros in town and on campus. These types of incidents seem to be fairly predictable, and the response shouldn’t be complicated. Get the basic facts out, and let the fans move on.

Angry coaches shouldn’t have the last word, the only words in this instance.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Fans deserve more respect following Chris Jones’ ouster”

  1. No one has mentioned the word “cover-up,” until now anyway, but we all know from various scenarios that have played out in public over the years that the cover-up often becomes more the story that the precipitating event itself.

    I enjoyed your write-up, Charlie, and I agree with you: “Get the basic facts out, and let the fans move on.”

    There needs to be more to the story than merely “Forget him.”

    1. I haven’t heard anyone from UofL coming up with any alternative scenarios, as is suggested by your use of “cover up.” They’re certainly not protecting him by keeping him around. Quite the opposite. They’re just not saying anything.

  2. Charlie , I have to disagree. He is ‘a kid’, and his name shouldn’t be dragged through the mud. The fans can deal with that. Speculation will happen, but it SHOULD be focused on the team, not what will happen to an ex member of the team.

  3. Well, I believe “the kid” is 23 years old, so just when is he old enough to be held accountable as an adult? Now, we learn two different, serious charges have been lodged against him and an arrest warrant has been issued.

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