Kansas tacitly acknowledges being subpoenaed in ongoing federal basketball investigation

The University of Kansas tacitly acknowledged that it has been subpoenaed by the federal government in the ongoing federal basketball investigation, according to a recent response to a public records request.

In an email to Yahoo Sports in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request, the school replied to a request for “any subpoenas received by (University of) Kansas… in relation to the ongoing federal investigation of college basketball” by stating it “has public records that are responsive to your request.” The university also stated it is “cooperating with the government inquiry.”

The university denied Yahoo’s April request for copies of subpoenas, citing the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and saying their release would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Multiple lawyers and document experts contacted by Yahoo Sports confirmed that the language used by the university is an acknowledgement of the school being subpoenaed by the federal government.

In response to a request for comment Monday, a University of Kansas spokesman referred Yahoo Sports to an earlier statement regarding the indictment that identified Kansas as a victim and expressed confidence that the school’s staff followed the rules.

The feds’ case against corruption in college basketball carries on. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
The feds’ case against corruption in college basketball carries on. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

The tacit confirmation that Kansas has been subpoenaed comes as little surprise, as the university’s ties to the sweeping federal basketball investigation have been amplified in recent months. Yahoo Sports reported on Friday that the University of Maryland received multiple subpoenas in the case, including one last month in which the feds sought information pertaining to current Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa. One of the subpoenas asked for “communications, regarding or relating to the recruitment, eligibility and/or amateur status of prospective student-athlete Silvio De Sousa.”

De Sousa enrolled at Kansas for the second semester of the 2017-18 season and was cleared for play for the Jayhawks in December. In September of 2017, according to federal documents, adidas officials spoke about making “another $20,000 payment” to De Sousa’s guardian to help him get “out from under” a deal with a rival apparel company. (The guardian, Fenny Falmagne, has denied taking payments to The Kansas City Star.) De Sousa had played for an Under Armour-sponsored high school and was regarded by recruiting analysts as a near-lock to attend Maryland, an Under Armour-sponsored college. De Sousa, who originally hails from Angola, averaged four points and 3.7 rebounds in 20 games with the Jayhawks.

Kansas basketball is considered the flagship program of adidas, the apparel company that’s found itself squarely in the federal investigation’s crosshairs. Long-time adidas executive Jim Gatto faces felony wire fraud charges. The same April superseding indictment that mentions the alleged payment for De Sousa also alleges that a veteran adidas consultant, T.J. Gassnola, and Gatto “conspired to illicitly funnel approximately at least $90,000” from adidas to the mother of Billy Preston, a former blue-chip Kansas recruit.

Preston enrolled at Kansas but never played in a regular-season game after the NCAA began investigating his automobile following an accident in November. Preston left school in January to play professionally in Bosnia and recently signed a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The indictment details Gassnola, a Massachusetts-based AAU coach, giving separate payments of $30,000 and $20,000 to a parent of Preston’s in hotel rooms in New York and Las Vegas. Gassnola pled guilty to a felony count of wire fraud conspiracy earlier this spring and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The contract signed earlier this month by new Kansas athletic director Jeff Long shows that he’s protecting himself from potential fallout from the federal investigation. The agreement asserts that if the university has restrictions or probation in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball or women’s volleyball pertaining to issues that arose before Long’s arrival, his contract – which is for $1.5 million per year – will be extended equal to the length of the penalties.

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