By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
This is a story of a loyal Mountaineer, of one who made a monumental success out of himself in the business world and carried it over into the athletic world, a man who has done great things in many areas, including at his own university.
His name is Ken Kendrick.
He’s also full of himself.
Before what mentioning brings this on at this moment, let us allow the WVU Foundation Alumni publication to give us a look at Kendrick’s background:
“Earl G. ‘Ken’ Kendrick Jr. graduated from WVU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. A native of Princeton, W.Va., this Mountaineer has become one of the leading entrepreneurs in the world. After graduating from WVU, Kendrick started his career with IBM in Baltimore, Md. Three years later, he founded Datatel Inc., which has become the industry leader in the development of software for the management of infrastructure technology for colleges and universities. Today, Kendrick remains semi-active in the operation of Datatel, serving as chairman, and also as president of the Datatel Scholars Foundation, which provides college scholarships to students throughout the United States and Canada.
“As Datatel continued to grow and prosper, Kendrick stepped down from the daily oversight of the organization to explore new business opportunities. He served as president of a Texas-based banking technology company for four years in the 1980s until it was purchased by a subsidiary of General Motors. In 1989, Kendrick invested in a community bank in The Woodlands, Texas. Woodforest National Bank now has more than $1.7 billion in assets and is one of the largest employee-owned banks in the United States.”
The article goes on to tell how he has injected himself into the sports world, in 2002 joining three partners to invest $160 million in the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for control of the team, advancing his love for sports that began back in West Virginia.
He also owns a small share of the Phoenix Suns, owns a number of golf courses, is backing young players trying to make their way into the PGA ... and you might recall that right from the start he was the No. 1 opponent to Bill Stewart taking over as coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers when Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan.
It was a three-year battle from which he eventually got his way, although whether winning nine games a year for three consecutive years as Stewart did wasn’t better than last season’s 7-5 record under Dana Holgorsen is an arguable point.
Through all of this, Mr. Kendrick has apparently come to believe that — at least in his own home ball park in Phoenix — he possesses dictatorial powers.
This is what transpired prior to the start of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Deadspin.com’s Timothy Burke.
Some fans spent $3,000 on a box behind home plate and dared show up for the game wearing Dodger gear.
Now, we are aware that the baseball anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” does direct fans to “root, root, root for the home team,” but when we last checked it was neither unconstitutional, illegal nor grounds for eviction to wear the colors of another team.
Ken Kendrick says otherwise.
And, apparently, he says so vehemently.
This is how Burke reported it:
“Viewers of last night’s game may have noticed some odd activity behind home plate during the first inning, with Kendrick — in the words of one observer — ‘pointing his finger, raising his voice and frustratedly flipping his arms in the air.’ Sure enough, ushers soon arrived with Diamondbacks shirts and caps in hand, which led to scenes of fans changing their clothes throughout the first inning.”
When asked about the incident — and this does rise to the level of being an incident — this was the reply Deadspin.com got from the Diamondbacks:
“Due to the high visibility of the home plate box, we ask opposing teams’ fans when they purchase those seats to refrain from wearing that team’s colors. During last night’s game, when Ken Kendrick noticed the fans there, he offered them another suite if they preferred to remain in their Dodger gear. When they chose to stay, he bought them all D-backs gear and a round of drinks and requested that they abide by our policy, and they obliged.”
Honest. Can you imagine Kendrick wearing his WVU gear to a game at Oklahoma and having the Sooners athletic director demand he change into Oklahoma red and white gear? He might have bought the University of Oklahoma and fired the athletic director.
Oh, it was nice Kendrick did offer a round of drinks. Very generous, especially considering drinks come with the suite anyway.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.