More and more heads continue to turn in the world of college basketball in the wake of the FBI’s recent investigations into the sport after the corruption involving Adidas. Major programs such as NC State, Southern California, South Carolina, Miami, Auburn and Arizona were named in the initial probes but have yet to face severe consequences as a program. In fact, the only to have received direct action due to the scandal is Louisville, who was forced to sit out of NCAA Tournament for a season. Louisville has also been required to take down a championship banner and to dismiss Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.
The buck does not stop there, however, as the NCAA continues to investigate, and now the spotlight is on one of college basketball’s most storied programs in Lawrence, Kansas. As of last week the program received a notice of allegations accusing them of three high-level infractions. Head Coach Bill Self is also being hit with a charge for, “lack of institutional control.”
Kansas first caught the attention of investigators when former Adidas rep TJ Gassnola took the stand to speak on his involvement in funneling money to the mother of former Kansas commit Billy Preston and the guardian of current Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa. This should come as no surprise to KU fans as both of these players’ have been mired in controversy throughout their time in Lawrence.
Beginning with Preston, the athletic forward was a McDonald’s All-American and a highly-sought recruit in the class of 2017. After committing to Kansas, Preston never suited up in the regular season for the Jayhawks as he was involved in a car accident on campus. Although no one was injured in the crash, the NCAA called into question the “financial picture” of the vehicle and Preston was suspended in the meantime. After a few months went by with no resolution, Preston withdrew from the school to focus on his professional career.
As for De Sousa, he too was a highly-ranked recruit who reclassified into the 2017 class in order to graduate early and play for the Jayhawks in the second half of their season. However, De Sousa’s status as an “amateur” came into question following the Gassnola testimony. During the proceedings, it was stated that De Sousa’s guardian had received $60,000 from a Maryland booster in order to lure a commitment. Pertaining to Kansas, Gassnola testified that he gave De Sousa over $200,000 to cover the cost of the online classes he needed to graduate early and suit up for the Jayhawks.
As a result, the NCAA ruled in February that De Sousa was ineligible for the remainder of the 18-19 season and all of the next. Kansas officials referred to the verdict as being, “mean-spirited and vindictive,” before ultimately winning an appeal that made De Sousa eligible for the upcoming season.
As for the University, they have fiercely denied all of the allegations that Adidas acted as boosters on behalf of the school. The school also rejected the notion of a, “lack of institutional control,” and expressed full support for Bill Self and his staff. The school closed its statement on the allegations with the following cryptic quote: “We understand this is a unique moment in collegiate athletics, and we recognize the NCAA finds itself in a challenging position. But we don’t believe these allegations are the most appropriate way to address long-standing challenges in college basketball.”
As for how Bill Self is handling these allegations, the coach was recently featured in a promo video that showed him wearing an Adidas t-shirt as well as a gold chain. Self has dug in his defense much like the University and is prepared for a battle against the NCAA.
The conclusion to this saga could range from nothing at all to the “death penalty” given the NCAA’s history with this sort of scandal. One thing is certain though: Kansas isn’t going to go out without a fight.
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