Kellis Robinett: The Facts

Toward the end of last week, The Wichita Eagle hired a new K-State sports beat writer to replace Jeffrey Martin.  The hire is Kellis Robinett, and his hire has been more than a bit controversial among K-State fans at GoPowercat and KSUFans.

Before we get into doing more extensive commentary on this issue, it's time to lay out all the facts here.  Normally, I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time talking about the background of a beat writer, but some of the things Robinett has written in the past make me suspicious of this hire.  Hit the jump for a summary of the research we've done on Robinett.

First, both Robinett and Kirk Seminoff, the sports editor for the Eagle, declined to be interviewed by BOTC.  Given that many K-State fans have taken the time to call or write the Eagle about this, it's clearly a big issue among the newspaper's consumers.  Because of that, I gave Robinett and Seminoff the opportunity to explain the issues to a K-State forum.  They declined.  So here are the facts, without their commentary.

Robinett is a 2005 graduate of KU's William Allen White School of Journalism.

While at KU, Robinett wrote for the University Daily Kansan.  For the homecoming issue on October 27, 2005, Robinett wrote a piece in which he ranked the road venues in the Big 12.  Check out page 22 on the link.  The entire text of his blurb about Manhattan -- he ranked it eighth -- is quoted below:

KSU Stadium still has wooden benches for seats, the women's basketball team is a bigger attraction than the men's team, and the Power Cat is the most generic logo in the country.

Yes, there's a lot to hate about Manhattan, but it has a few saving graces.  The Wildcats were the first to play the "Wabash Cannonball," and schools across the nation have stolen the tradition since.

The tailgating scene for football games is awesome.  It doesn't matter how cold it gets, RV's and tents always stretch as far as the eye can see.

And when the occasional large crowd shows up to Bramlage Coliseum it has a good atmosphere.

At some point after graduating from KU, Robinett took a job writing for the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, Idaho.  While there, Robinett covered Idaho State sports and ran a self-titled blog for the newspaper.  Before last season, Robinett wrote a series of posts predicting the order of finish for football teams in the Big Sky Conference.  During this series, he picked Montana State to finish second in the conference.  Montana State played K-State last season, and this was Robinett's prediction regarding MSU's matchup with K-State.  

Predicted Wins: Adams State, at Kansas State, South Dakota, Weber State, Eastern Washington, at Sacramento State, Northern Colorado, at Northern Arizona, Portland State

...Snip...

I also predict Montana State will also win a road game against a FBS opponent. The Bobcats get two great opportunities with Kansas State and Minnesota on the schedule. K-State welcomes in more JUCO transfers than any team in history (not really, but it's a lot) and Minnesota was arguably the worst BCS team in the country last year.

The Bobcats get Kansas State first, and the Wildcats typically struggle against FCS opponents at home. They had to survive a two-point conversion try from Illinois State to win by one two years ago. That's the game I see Montana State winning.

K-State defeated Montana State, 69-10.  By my count, since 2000, K-State is 9-0 against FCS opponents at home, with a total margin of 420-114. 

Since January of this year, Robinett has operated a blog titled "The Jayhawk Lounge."  By clicking on that link, you discovered that the blog has been deleted from Wordpress' database.  Seminoff informed me that the Eagle told Robinett to take the blog down because it doesn't permit its staffers to run a blog like that.  Thanks to the magic of Google Cache, the content of the blog is still available for viewing.

It is not clear from the blog who writes each post, and the blog's "About" page indicates there are multiple authors.  On some of the posts, the tags indicate that the post was written by Robinett, on some of the posts the tags indicate the post was written by one of the other authors.  However, many of the posts are unsigned by any of the authors, making it impossible to determine who wrote the post.

One post we do know Robinett wrote was published in the aftermath of the K-State/KU basketball game in Manhattan this year.  It concerns comments made by GoPowercat's Tim Fitzgerald after the game regarding racist - and ignorant - statements that were allegedly directed at K-State point guard Denis Clemente during the game.  Here is part of the post.

So Tim Fitzgerald says Denis Clemente's idiotic actions of elbowing Brady Morningstar and slapping Tyrel Reed were brought on by players on the Kansas bench shouting racial slurs at him, huh?

Yeah, I don't think so.

Maybe if he weren't the editor of a K-State fan site I would believe the claim. Or maybe if he in fact had heard the racial slurs himself, rather than members of his staff claiming to have heard them and passing the gossip along to him I would believe the claim. Or maybe if it were humanly possible for people on press row to hear anything that players say to each other on the court I would believe the claim.

But he is biased. He didn't hear the words himself. And, as a college basketball beat writer myself, I know first hand it is not possible to clearly make out anything that's said on the basketball court in a crowded stadium. So, I must agree with Kansas coach Bill Self here and say that hearing those ridiculous claims, "Really pisses me off."

By the way, how funny is it that the normal KU media all chose to censor the word pisses?

And since when did "Where is your green card?" become a racial slur? I had worse things said to me today while shopping at Costco.

So to recap, Robinett called a current K-State student-athlete's actions "idiotic."  He believes that, as the editor of a K-State fan site, Fitzgerald is biased and thus not to be believed.  Don't forget, Robinett used to run a KU fan site.  Finally, he doesn't see how it's offensive to ask a legal U.S. citizen where his Green Card is, nor that it is asinine to ask a Puerto Rican where his Green Card is, considering that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and its citizens are U.S. citizens.

There are many other posts at "The Jayhawk Lounge" that denigrate K-State, but as was mentioned before, it's impossible to tell who wrote many of the posts.  You are free to peruse the Google Cache pages of the site.  I'm not here to tell you whether the moderator of a blog is responsible for all the content of the blog.  I consider myself responsible for everything that is posted on this site.  I also can't tell you who wrote a lot of those posts.  I can't tell you why the Eagle had Robinett take down The Jayhawk Lounge, rather than merely informing him that he could no longer write for it.  I can't tell you why Seminoff refuses to comment and refuses to permit Robinett to be interviewed.

The issue in this matter is not that the Eagle hired a KU grad to cover the K-State sports beat.  It's not even necessarily that they hired someone who had maintained a KU fan site to cover the K-State sports beat.  The issue is that they deleted the blog and now refuse to answer any questions about it.  Seminoff claims that they had Robinett delete the blog because they don't permit staffers to maintain personal fan site blogs.  Whether that's true or not, having the blog deleted and then refusing to comment about it creates the impression that they have something to hide.

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