Kansas dodges major punishment from NCAA following multi-year investigation

Kansas won't face a postseason ban

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 04: Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks stands on the court during the game with the Texas Longhorns at Moody Center on March 04, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Kansas and coach Bill Self have dodged major sanctions from the NCAA. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Kansas men’s basketball escaped serious penalties from the NCAA from a multi-year investigation into the program’s involvement in the college basketball federal corruption scandal.

The NCAA’s Independent Accountability Review Process announced Wednesday that Kansas’ five Level I allegations had been downgraded to a Level II case and that the program had received a three-year probation through Oct. 10, 2026.

The decision comes after Kansas self-imposed penalties at the start of the 2022-23 season following its 2022 NCAA tournament win. Coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend served a four-game suspension while the school also imposed recruiting limitations. The Level I charge against each coach is now a Level III.

The light punishment is a whimper of a conclusion to what had been a contentious back-and-forth between Kansas and the NCAA. After the school was implicated in the 2017 FBI investigation into the way payments were allegedly being made to players to attend certain schools, the NCAA sent a notice of allegations to Kansas in 2019 that alleged three Level I violations, a lack of institutional control charge and a head coach responsibility charge against Self.

The notice of allegations centered around the recruitments of Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. According to testimony from the corruption trial, an Adidas consultant directed nearly $100,000 to Preston’s mother while another payment was made to De Sousa’s guardian. Adidas is the apparel manufacturer for Kansas and text messages between Self and T.J. Gassnola, the Adidas consultant, showed the two discussed recruiting.

Kansas must vacate some wins in 2017-18

As part of Wednesday's punishment, Kansas is forced to vacate any wins it had while De Sousa played during the 2017-18 season, however. The Jayhawks went 31-8 that season and advanced to the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Villanova.

De Sousa played in every NCAA tournament game and 20 games overall during the season. The Jayhawks were 15-5 in the games he played and can no longer officially list themselves as Final Four participants that season.

Since those games are officially being vacated, Self’s official NCAA career win total also must have those games vacated. Before Wednesday’s announcement, Self had a career record of 787-237 and was No. 15 on the career men’s basketball wins list.

The three Level I allegations initially leveled against the school signaled that the NCAA was looking to level significant penalties against the school. After the FBI investigation, Kansas had contended that it was simply a victim of the scandal and published a lengthy response to the NCAA in 2020 that disputed the governing body’s allegations.

The length of time it took for a resolution to the case ultimately worked in Kansas’ favor. The NCAA has trended toward smaller penalties against schools involved in the corruption scandal in recent years, especially as players are now allowed to make money off their own image rights.

Kansas counted on that trend continuing with its self-imposition of penalties a year ago and that bet paid off ahead of its IARP hearing in April.