His 'Starr' continues to shine ever bright


While Monday's McCree Award program was a chance to celebrate the work and the careers of several great legal figures, it also afforded Chief Judge Gerald Rosen an opportunity to cast his friend Kenneth Starr in a different light.

A sporting light.

Starr, as the president of Baylor University, in recent months has been gaining fame for more than his illustrious legal career, which, of course, included his role as the Independent Counsel on the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton presidency.

But that, for today's fans of the Baylor Bears, is a mere footnote to the Starr resume. Perhaps of far greater importance is his stature as the head of the private university that is enjoying unprecedented athletic success.

Baylor's football team, which posted a 10-3 record and a victory over Washington in the Alamo Bowl last season, was led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, an electrifying player projected to be among the top picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Its men's basketball squad has been among the top 10 teams in the country most of the season, posting a 25-6 record entering conference tournament play this week.

The Baylor women's basketball team has been even more impressive in 2011-12, recording a spotless 31-0 mark on the eve of the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bears are led by the country's top player, 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, a junior phenom who is changing the face of women's basketball with her sterling play.

Baylor, in short, is getting noticed, a point that Chief Judge Rosen duly noted when introducing Starr at the McCree Award Luncheon earlier this week.

"With all due respect to F. Scott Fitzgerald, who famously said, 'There are no second acts in American lives,' Ken has proved him wrong," Rosen said with a smile, noting that Starr followed his independent counsel service by becoming one of the nation's preeminent appellate and Supreme Court lawyers, dean of Pepperdine Law School, and the current president of Baylor University.

"But, as they say in journalism, I've really buried the lead because Ken has achieved something that not only Judge McCree never achieved, but that few if any of us in this room have achieved," Rosen said after highlighting Starr's legal career. "In fact, it is something that I always hoped to achieve as a young man growing up, as I'm sure is true of many of you here, but I fell far short," admitted Rosen, who was an outstanding tennis player in high school and college.

"Last week, there was a large picture of Ken in Sports Illustrated, leading his Baylor Bears onto the football field, along with a glowing article about the difference he has made in the resurgence of Baylor and its athletic program," Rosen said. "There's even a rumor that Ken is seen around the Baylor campus sporting a tee-shirt with the fluorescent words, 'Let's Party' emblazoned on his back. Who knows, Ken -- maybe your next act will be as the first commissioner of the NCAA."

-- By Tom Kirvan

Published: Fri, Mar 9, 2012


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