The University of Kansas received its notice of allegations from the NCAA on Monday, which includes potentially devastating allegations toward the men’s basketball program, according to multiple sources.
Kansas has been charged with lack of institutional control, three Level I violations in men’s basketball and there is a head coach responsibility charge against coach Bill Self, according to multiple sources. There also are allegations against football, sources added, although those are Level II violations. The football allegations include charges of allowing an extra coach to work during practice under former head coach David Beaty.
The Level I violations are tied, in part, to the recruitments of Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. Court testimony and documents tied to the federal basketball corruption cases over the past two years included details of veteran adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola having “conspired to illicitly funnel approximately at least $90,000” to the mother of Preston. Gassnola also testified in court that he paid De Sousa’s guardian $2,500, although he denied arranging a $20,000 payment that had been discussed on wiretaps.
The charge against Self will potentially prove a compelling and high-profile application of the NCAA’s head coach responsibility bylaws. Evidence tied to the case included Gassnola and Self talking openly in text messages about Adidas helping Kansas recruit players. “I’m happy with Adidas,” Self wrote Gassnola. “Just got to get a couple real guys.”
Later, Gassnola texted about keeping Self and Kansas happy with lottery picks. Self responded: “That’s how (it) works. At UNC and Duke.”
The scope of the allegations against Kansas are significant, as three Level I violations are one more than North Carolina State received in their notice of allegations in July. (NC State also didn’t receive a lack of institutional control allegation, which is among the most serious NCAA charges.)
“Very, very serious,” a veteran compliance officer said to Yahoo Sports when told of the contents of the Kansas letter. “That’s everything that compliance is employed to prevent. That’s the trifecta, that’s unbelievable. That’s the reason why compliance exists, just thinking about it gives me anxiety.”
The NCAA process has unfolded in a predictably slow manner, as the two-year anniversary of the initial wave of 10 arrests in the federal investigation comes later this week. The only consistent part of NCAA investigations historically has been that they unfold at a snail’s pace, and these particular cases have unfolded even slower than normal because they were delayed by the ongoing federal investigations.
In June, NCAA vice president Stan Wilcox said at least six schools would be receiving notices of allegations for Level I violations. He said that two of them would come in early July. The NC State letter came around then, but the second one took more than two months after that.
The contents of this letter certainly shook other universities involved in the basketball scandal, which include Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, LSU, South Carolina and USC. Only Louisville has fired their head coach and none of the schools who employed the four assistant coaches have made significant changes.
The letter comes at a time when the NCAA has been fighting a perception, earned through its history, that it struggles to police its highest-profile schools. Kansas is expected to vigorously dispute the allegations, which sets up a potential conflict with the NCAA, as it is feeling pressure from membership and coaches to aggressively investigate schools implicated in the scandal.
Kansas did not return calls seeking comment on Monday. There are multiple thorny aspects for Kansas here, as compliance officials will tell you that Level I violations, if found by the Committee on Infractions, are difficult to mitigate.
The coach control charge – NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168 – will also be worrisome for Self, a Hall of Fame coach who has won 891 games in his career. The rule states: “An institution's head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach.”
The NCAA’s case is expected to heavily revolve around Kansas’ relationship with Adidas, which paid Gassnola as a grassroots consultant while he was known as a “bag man” for the company. Gassnola worked for Adidas’ so-called secret Black Ops division that court records and testimony showed was openly talked about on company email.
A phone call captured by federal authorities between Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend and another Adidas consultant, Merl Code, was read in court and included a reference to potentially paying Zion Williamson, who went on to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft from Duke, or a family member for him to attend Kansas. “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way,” Townsend said, according to the transcript read in court.
Gassnola cooperated with federal officials and was recently sentenced to a one-year term of supervised released. Gassnola also figures prominently in the NC State case, as he delivered a $40,000 payment to help NC State keep the commitment of Dennis Smith Jr.
Kansas released a statement in April of 2018 claiming to be a victim in the federal cases. Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said in a statement to Yahoo at the time: “The recent indictment names KU as a victim and asserts that unlawful activities were deliberately concealed from KU officials. The indictment does not suggest any wrongdoing by the university, its coaches or its staff.”
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