UPDATE: KU officials slightly before 7 p.m. released a statement confirming it had received a notice of allegations from the NCAA. It said it would “fiercely dispute” many of the details of the allegations. It said it stands behind KU basketball coach Bill Self and how he runs the Jayhawk program. Check back for more updates from the university’s response.
From the university’s statement: KU has 90 days to present a response to the NCAA. For the first time, KU has been granted access to some of the NCAA evidentiary documents.
“The University’s response will fully and comprehensively present its positions regarding the Notice. In the meantime, though, it is already clear from an initial review that the University will fiercely dispute in detail much of what has been presented,” the university said in its statement.
A key part of the case will be the NCAA’s contention that the Adidas employees who have been convicted of federal fraud charges were boosters of KU. The university “emphatically rejects” that assertion.
The university also rejects any allegations that head coach Bill Self failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance with NCAA rules. The university’s statement says “voluminous evidence demonstrates uncontestably” that Self fully monitored his staff and promoted an atmosphere of compliance. The university said it supports both Self and his staff.
The official NCCA document detailing the allegations against KU largely focuses on activities related to three Adidas employees who were convicted on federal fraud charges — James Gatto, Merl Code and T.J. Gassnola. But it also alleges that former men’s basketball coach Larry Brown was involved in a violation. The document alleges that men’s assistant coach Kurtis Townsend reached out to Brown about a particular recruit, whose name was redacted in the document. Brown later said he did reach out to the recruit or a representative of the recruit (that information also was redacted.) The person sought athletic apparel for a non scholastic sports team. The report says Townsend committed a violation by failing to notify the school’s compliance staff of the request.
The University of Kansas is facing NCAA charges that could lead to major penalties — although perhaps not until next year — for the basketball program and head coach Bill Self, according to a national report.
KU received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Monday that outlines several major violations committed by the university’s basketball program, according to a Yahoo Sports report.
The NOA — the NCAA’s equivalent of an indictment — charges the KU program with lack of institutional control, three Level 1 violations in the men’s basketball program and Self with a “responsibility charge,” according to the report. Level 1 violations are deemed the most serious and can include penalties such as scholarship reductions and postseason bans. The report did not elaborate on what the three Level 1 charges are.
Additionally, the KU football program is charged with Level 2 violations, which include allowing an extra coach to work during practice under former coach David Beaty, according to the report.
When reached by the Journal-World Monday afternoon, Reggie Robinson, vice chancellor of public affairs for KU, was given a chance to deny the reports, but declined to do so. When asked whether KU would be releasing a statement Monday either confirming or denying the reports that it had received a Notice of Allegations, he said, “I have nothing for you.”
The Level 1 violations charged to the men’s basketball team are in connection with the program’s recruitment of former player Billy Preston and current player Silvio De Sousa, according to the report.
It has been confirmed for months that KU was under investigation by the NCAA for any role the school may have played in a recruiting scandal that resulted in federal fraud convictions earlier this year. Three of the men convicted in the recruiting scandal had ties to KU through their relationship with Adidas, the athletic apparel company that has a multimillion dollar sponsorship agreement with KU.
During a federal trial in one of the fraud cases, former Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola admitted to paying $90,000 to the family of Preston to get Preston to attend KU. Gassnola also admitted to paying the guardian of De Sousa $2,500 — and had agreed to pay more — to get De Sousa to attend KU.
During the trial, text messages and other information presented to the court raised questions about whether KU head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend knew that Adidas officials were taking actions to steer recruits to KU in violation of NCAA rules.
As the Journal-World reported in February, the violations levied against KU may rely on how the NCAA views Gassnola’s relationship to the program. If the NCAA views Gassnola as a booster, his actions seemingly would violate several NCAA rules that prohibit boosters from having contact — let along giving money to — recruits or their families. It is common for universities to be held responsible for the actions of their boosters, regardless of whether the school knew of the actions.
Information presented at trial, though, also raises questions of whether KU coaches were aware of Gassnola reaching out to recruits. Text messages were presented at trial that seemingly showed KU coaches asking how Gassnola’s conversations went with the family of a recruit.
When the university first asked the NCAA to rule on De Sousa’s eligibility, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said the organization required the university to consider Gassnola a “booster.” But Long said that KU was considering Gassnola a booster “only as a hypothetical for the purposes of reinstatement.”
NCAA rules experts William H. Brooks, an Alabama lawyer who has represented universities facing NCAA infractions, and Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska College of Law professor and former chair of the NCAA committee on infractions, both told the Journal-World at the time that Gassnola’s connection to the program could make him a “booster.”
Potuto pointed to the NCAA handbook, which shows under its guidelines for “Institutional Control” that universities can be held responsible for the actions of corporate entities and their employees that are working on their behalf, whether the universities are aware of their actions or not.
“If (a university) asks for help from someone outside that clearly triggers booster status,” Potuto said in February. “But someone who is ‘assisting,’ even if the (university) says it did not know, also could trigger booster status.”
Now that the university has received the NOA, it will have the chance to defend itself from possible sanctions. It’s unclear what sanctions the university could be facing, but loss of scholarships, postseason bans and forfeiture of wins all appear to be on the table. Additionally, coach Self may be held responsible for the violations.
According to the NCAA’s manual, a “head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach.” If the NCAA finds the coach responsible, he can be sanctioned with a suspension from NCAA activities.
It may be some time before the university knows if it will face sanctions.
Brooks told the Journal-World in June that it could take a year after receiving a NOA before the matter is settled. He said the university will have up to 90 days to respond to the allegations and it’s not uncommon for the NCAA to grant an extension. The response is then sent to the NCAA enforcement staff, which has 60 days to file a reply and a “statement of the case,” which outlines the overall summary of the case.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions, which is made up of attorneys and current and former university officials from across the country, will then schedule a hearing date, which gives the university and the enforcement staff a chance to make their cases. The committee will then issue a ruling, which often comes several months later, Brooks said.
When the Committee on Infractions makes its ruling, the university will for the first time see which penalties it is facing. If a university self-imposes penalties, Brooks said the university will be hoping the NCAA does not add any more penalties on top of those.
If penalties are sanctioned, the university then has the opportunity to appeal the decision and the penalties. A ruling on an appeal does not have any specific timeline, Brooks.
Brooks said he believes the cases the NCAA said it was investigating related to the Adidas scandal won’t be resolved until sometime in 2020.
“It’ll be next year,” he said.
Editor Chad Lawhorn contributed to this report.