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March Madness Has Become About The Koch Brothers – Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

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David Hookstead Smoke Room Editor-in-Chief
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March Madness is one of the most sacred traditions in America, and The New Yorker is doing its best to ruin it by making it about Charles and David Koch.

The tournament is about young men taking the court to crown one champion out of 68 contenders. It’s about basketball, fun times, friendship, memories and legends being born. The New Yorker apparently missed the memo on all of that with its piece, “How Charles Koch Turned Wichita State into a College-Basketball Powerhouse.”

The New Yorker wrote in part:

For most of their history, the Shockers were known, if at all, for their mascot, WuShock, a giant shock of wheat with an unsettlingly murderous mien, who was introduced in 1948.* The program was not well funded—to raise money in the eighties, an athletic director staged camel races and charged an entry fee, among other promotional stunts. But, in 2000, Koch Industries donated six million dollars to help renovate the team’s arena, which was renamed in Charles’s honor. Koch later said that the apparent immodesty made him feel “insecure.” The athletic director at the time, Jim Schaus, told me that Koch wanted to give back to his home town; he also said that the company had implied it was good timing “from a P.R. standpoint.” The arena has become a focal point for the community. “You never know who you’re going to bump into,” Chance Swaim, the editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, the Sunflower, told me. “Like the director of the C.I.A.”—Mike Pompeo, a Shockers fan. Pompeo received almost four hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from Koch Industries as a congressman. He is now Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State.

Do you see what they’re doing here? The New Yorker is trying to argue that the the Koch brothers funneled money to WSU, and then they try to draw the most obscure tie to the fact Pompeo is a fan and now he’s the nominee Secretary of State. This is about as big of a stretch as you can get. He got money from the Koch’s, WSU got money from them, so there must be something sinister going on here! Happy March Madness, everybody. I’m glad we’re finally focused on what’s important. Not the games, but the Koch brothers!

But wait! I have found something that apparently The New Yorker didn’t when writing this story. The whole thing is staged to make it seem like the Koch’s money is pretty exclusive to WSU. Well, it’s not. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Charles Koch foundation has given money to more than 300 schools.

This article is so flawed that in the initial version of the story, The New Yorker referred to the WSU mascot as corn. Outstanding work from their research team.

Is nothing exempt from politics these days in America? Here’s an even better question. Does the person who wrote this article even know anything about college basketball? Wichita State built their program through incredible recruiting – plucking diamonds from the rough – and great coaching from Gregg Marshall. If it was just the money, then why aren’t all 300 schools the Kochs donated to massive powerhouses? The answer is an obvious one. A small donation to WSU didn’t make them a basketball powerhouse.

WSU got to where they are today because they took kids nobody else wanted. A perfect example would be Ron Baker. That guy was embarrassingly under-recruited coming out of high school and turned into a star under Gregg Marshall. But that’s not nearly as salacious as blaming creeping Koch-ria, so it doesn’t get mentioned.

Wichita State did things the right way, and it’s the reason why they are a dominant team. Maybe the folks at The New Yorker should spend a little more time watching basketball and relaxing instead of drumming up dumb articles about school donations.

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