Internal review of Mangino under way

Updated: November 18, 2009, 12:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A bad year for the Kansas Jayhawks just got worse.

The school said Tuesday that it is investigating an unspecified personnel issue involving coach Mark Mangino, the national coach of the year two seasons ago. And Mangino -- his team mired in a five-game losing streak -- conceded that he's lost the support of "some people around here."

Mangino is alleged to have grabbed, yelled at and put his finger in the chest of a player who had been laughing during a walkthrough or practice prior to the Colorado game on Oct. 17, two people briefed on the situation told ESPN's Joe Schad on Tuesday night. The Kansas City Star identified the player as senior linebacker Arist Wright.

That incident was a key incident among others that have been raised by players or parents.

Two people briefed on the investigation process said that no decision on Mangino's future was imminent and that the process was expected to take at least a few days.

One mother of a player, who asked not to be identified, said that "a majority of parents I believe would tell you that they are not surprised by this investigation." Some players have threatened to transfer because of what they perceive as having been spoken to in an inappropriate manner, another source said.

Several players and the parents of other players have had meetings with athletic director Lew Perkins about the situation, two sources briefed on the situation told Schad.

Mangino was not present Monday night when Perkins met with the entire football team. The coach, who has been dogged by anger issues during his eight seasons at Kansas, met briefly with Perkins on Tuesday but neither would say what was discussed.

Mangino insisted he has not lost the support of his players, something that was echoed by quarterback and team leader Todd Reesing.

"I haven't lost the team, not one bit," Mangino said. "I may have lost some people around here but it's not players."

Asked to elaborate, Mangino said, "Take it for what it's worth. You decipher it and see."

Reesing said he expected the situation will not drag on.

"They're going to try to bring it to a quick resolve so we can get our focus and everyone else's focus on [this week's] game," he said.

Mangino inherited a program in shambles in 2002 and coached the Jayhawks to their greatest season ever in 2007, a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. He was named Associated Press coach of the year and Perkins began millions of dollars' worth of construction of new and improved facilities designed to put the long-struggling program on par with Big 12 gridiron powers.

Perkins has also begun an ambitious $34 million project to build a new level of premium seating at Memorial Stadium. He hopes to open the club in time for the beginning of next season.

But after a 5-0 start that shot them to No. 16 in the AP poll, the Jayhawks have lost five straight and will be huge underdogs this week at No. 3 Texas. They finish their regular season the next week against Missouri.

A losing record would not help sell expensive tickets to the new facility.

If the current flap involves Mangino's treatment of players, it would not be the first time he has drawn attention to himself in such a way. Several years ago he wound up on YouTube when cameras caught him angrily cursing a player who drew a penalty for hotdogging.

Mangino, whose contract runs through 2012, has had other temper problems as well. After a close loss to Texas several years ago, he suggested in his postgame news conference that officials had rigged the outcome in order to get a second conference team into a BCS bowl. He issued an apology that night.

After a run-in with officials during his son's high school game, he was banned by the school from the sideline.

Neither Mangino nor Perkins nor any Kansas players would disclose the specifics of the investigation. Mangino said it had to do with the disappointing season.

"You lose a few games in a row, those type of things surface. It's not uncommon," he said. "I don't take it lightly, but I'm focused on Texas and I'm very comfortable the way we manage and run the football program here. This is what comes when things aren't going well. You're going to find disgruntled people."

Asked if Mangino had lost the support of his team, or at least parts of it, Reesing said emphatically, "No. Not at all."

"I don't think this has anything to do with the recent performance and the number of games we've won," he said.

Perkins issued a statement and was not available to the media.

"I can confirm an internal review is under way," he said. "It involves a personnel matter, and as a result is confidential. It would be inappropriate for me to provide further information right now."

In eight seasons at Kansas, where football has historically struggled, Mangino is 50-46 overall and 23-39 in the Big 12.

Reesing was evasive when asked if Perkins was supporting Mangino.

"I think Lew's doing what he has to do in the position that he has as a job," he said.

The senior quarterback also said he was surprised the incident had flared into such prominence.

"I think it's a little surprising that it happened like it did," he said. "And I didn't realize some things were being said or feelings that people had. You hear things from time to time from people and guys and you don't know if people are kidding, how serious they are or how true their feelings are about certain things."

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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