Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Attorney involved in Diallo case confident KU freshman will play this season

Don Jackson hasn't ruled out lawsuit to get Mali forward on the court in games

Kansas newcomer Cheick Diallo walks out to the field with his KU teammates as they are honored upon their arrival home after winning the gold medal while representing Team USA during the recent World University Games in South Korea.

Kansas newcomer Cheick Diallo walks out to the field with his KU teammates as they are honored upon their arrival home after winning the gold medal while representing Team USA during the recent World University Games in South Korea.


Don Jackson, the attorney who is representing the guardian of Kansas University freshman basketball forward Cheick Diallo in Diallo’s eligibility case with the NCAA, said Wednesday that he is confident Diallo will play for the Jayhawks this season.

“I think his chances of playing for Kansas this year are excellent,” Alabama-based attorney Jackson said to Kansas City 610 Radio, acknowledging there are two components to this case — initial academic eligibility of Diallo as well as possible amateurism violations regarding Diallo’s legal guardian, Tidiane Drame.

“There’s no reason as to why he wouldn’t (play in games). I think that’s almost a certainty. A timeline? That will be determined over the next day or so. Candidly, at a certain point, when it becomes quite clear that all administrative possibilities have been exhausted, then legal action becomes more of a possibility,” Jackson added.

Yes, Jackson may file a lawsuit — if he has to — to get Diallo eligible. The Mali native has yet to be deemed academically fit to play by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

“My goal is always to resolve these issues administrative-first, because in order to get legal equitable relief you have to exhaust all administrative possibilities of the young man being cleared,” Jackson said.

“At the same time the actions here as I see them at the moment ... these actions (of NCAA) appear to be quite illegal. In this situation, the manner in which this investigation has occurred and the manner in which a determination has been made on a statement of fact relative to young man’s legal guardian ... it clearly appears they (NCAA) have violated their own rules. How can you conduct a credible investigation and have a particular individual as a target of that investigation without ever having had any interaction with him?” Jackson added.

Jackson is referring to the NCAA not having yet spoken with Diallo’s legal guardian, even though Drame has made it clear he’s ready and willing and able to be inteviewed.

“The fact of the matter is in cases where they can’t establish that a student-athlete has violated NCAA rules — where they can’t establish violations, they will intentionally drag cases out to essentially impose a de-facto suspension. That is what is happening in this case,” Jackson said.

“They have not been able to establish a violation. As a result of that it serves their purpose to continue an investigation for an interminable amount of time and essentially force the student-athlete to serve a suspension. The young man’s legal guardian who is very much at the heart of certain aspects of this investigation has not even been interviewed,” Jackson exclaimed.

“He has advised them he wants to be interviewed. They have not even interviewed him even though they apparently have drawn conclusions about his relationship with this young man without ever having spoken to him.”

Jackson said there is no concern about amateurism violations as Drame is Diallo’s legal guardian in the country of Mali.

“We have a gentleman who based on Malian law is the legal guardian of this young man,” Jackson said. “Unless an athletic regulatory association somehow claims their internal legislation is superior to the legal system in a sovereign nation that ends that area of consideration.”

As far as the initial eligibility side of the case, Jackson is shocked the NCAA is reportedly looking into classes Diallo took in Mali as far back as the sixth grade. He said normally the cutoff is ninth grade.

Jackson called it an “intentional effort to delay and somewhat of a witch-hunt.”

"If you don’t have coursework in your high school algebra class or 9th grade biology class or 10th grade geometry class (at Our Savior New American High in New York which Diallo attended three years) to satisfy them it was academically rigorous enough they’ll disallow that course as a core course. There’s been an element of that involved in this case,” Jackson said.

“This young man has been subjected to an exhaustive review that lasted for almost six months on both of issues both on amateurism side and academic side. Candidly the vast majority of these cases end late August or early September. Quite often you’ll find cases that will linger into the season. Once that occurs it’s nothing more than a de-facto suspension which essentially the young man is serving right now.”

Good news on Greene: Brannen Greene, who missed Tuesday’s 89-66 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State because of discomfort and stiffness in his surgically repaired hip, practiced on Wednesday.

“He couldn’t go Tuesday and today he was 100 percent. It’s going to be like that for a while (as Greene continues recovery),” coach Bill Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show.

Lightfoot to sign today: Mitch Lightfoot, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound senior forward from Gilbert (Arizona) Christian High, who orally committed to Kansas University on Oct. 24, is expected to sign his letter-of-intent today, the second day of the week-long early signing period. Lightfoot, who is ranked No. 117 nationally by, did not sign Wednesday because school was not in session on the Veterans Day holiday.

Fox announcement today: De’Aaron Fox, a 6-3 senior point guard from Cypress Lakes High in Katy, Texas, who is ranked No. 5 nationally by, is expected to announce for Kentucky over KU, Louisville and LSU today on ESPNU’s Signing Day Special, to run from 5 to 6 p.m., Central time.


Danny Hernandez 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you Don Jackson for clearing up what many of us feel about the NCAA Clearinghouse, they're a bunch of short-sighted individuals who's motto is guilty until proven innocent. The fact they held Cheick hostage these past months is a crime. The sooner the big5 powers play hardball with the NCAA, won't be soon enough for me.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

I find it a bit unsettling doing battle with the very organization that has the authority to make a program vacate a season.

Vernon Riggs 5 years, 3 months ago

I like what I hear from Mr. Jackson. Got get them!

Rodney Crain 5 years, 3 months ago

Ok this is not about Diallo as much as it is about possible amateurism violations regarding Diallo’s legal guardian, Tidiane Drame. I see now why this is taking so long, there is an added element here. All bets are off on when Diallo plays with this added in.

Too bad we really need him.

Danny - the big5 will still need a governing body if they get rid of the NCAA. Issues like this will remain but you will just be frustrated with somebody else. If the Big5 (more like the Big 4 and our conference) move it will be about how to split up the money, which most of them generate for the NCAA, not how the NCAA handles eligibity questions.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

It would be nice to have a governing body that actually needed to be held accountable, exactly the opposite of the NCAA.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

Without being privy to the documents of the case, the above article and other sources, are making it a bit clearer to me as well. We are dealing with international law issues as well as these guys called "guardians" or whatever that in reality are agents.

At the elite level, I'm not sure what the solution might be. If I were with the NCAA, I'd be very thought with the investigation. However, if Diallo was my son, I'd would have had a lawyer a month ago with litigation papers filed a week before the first exhibition game.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm 95% sure that you meant "thorough" and I think going back to sixth grade surpasses ANYTHING legitimately under the NCAA purview. Also, since when does the NCAA investigate any type of international issues. Do they do this with every player who comes from a foreign country?

The answer is obvious as there would be a lot of players waiting for eligibility. Your one point about the guardians/agents is something that needed to be investigated but if you look at the case of Skal Labissiere and his guardian, there are certainly more red flags than in the case of Diallo.

I cannot find any legitimate reason for this case to take this long.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I meant thorough.

With them going back so far tells me they are going through all kids of hoops to justify eligibility. The they may be Kansas, NCAA or both.

I certainly don't know the details with regards to the international situation but from my own business experiences, anything international can add many complications.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 3 months ago

The NCAA site talks about transcripts for secondary school not elementary or middle school.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 3 months ago

the BIG problem Rodney, is that the NCAA has made no attempt to interview Tidane, Drame. As this article says, or maybe another article said, when the NCAA can't find anything on the player they drag it out as long as possible to serve as suspension. Mr Drame has said he would love to, and is willing, wanting to and is available to speak with the NCAA. Hmmmmmm, wonder why that is? Why if they are questioning this guys action with Diallo why are they avoiding, when he says he is ready and willing to talk? Plus being available whenever

Rodney Crain 5 years, 3 months ago

Gerry I think you are off tangent with your post. I am not a fan of theirs but in this case any anger or frustration is misplaced.

Anytime you have out of country research needed and a questionable guardian you could be in for long delays and information lacking the corroboration necessary. I would think if they have questions from the information they have that is credible they would than seek clarification, which could be an interview. Just because Drame wants one or is threatening to sue does not matter really unless they have concluded their investigation and have specific questions on what they have found or are missing from him specifically. They might not be ready to talk to right now. (His lawsuit in a US court opens up disclosure by the way, depending on the grounds he is using, he might not want to pursue that. It will also delay this even more as everyone resets for the trail.)

The NCAA was created to bring a level organized playing field to college athletics (men's, then women's). The schools themselves revised what they wanted the NCAA to do over the years and eligibility has continued to be more controlled at the request of the member schools.

I understand the frustration, I have it too, but this is much more than a straight forward question of required course work.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

And finally, we can put to rest the speculation that we were in the appeals process. Now the speculation will begin as to when or if Diallo finally steps on the court..

Friday night sounds good.

Mike Riches 5 years, 3 months ago

"We have a gentleman who based on Mayan law is the legal guardian of this young man..."

Mayan law, huh? Wow the NCAA is looking pretty far back... :)

I hope this young Malian can get on the court Friday!

Gary Amble 5 years, 3 months ago

Funny Mike. Didn't the Mayan calendar run out last year?

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Yes it did Gary and we are currently in NCAA hell.

Joe Ross 5 years, 3 months ago

It's as I thought with respect to the NCAA checking out his Malian history. One the NCAA is only supposed to check going back to 9th grade. But I think they are seeking to procure records going back to the 6th grade (clearly years outside of their purview according to NCAA bylaws) to see if Drame appears as the legal guardian in those records. Otherwise, those records would be outside of their interest because his coursework during that time is irrelevant.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 3 months ago

I think legal system accountability, not just for this case, but for others like it has become necessary due to the NCAA's ability to enrich itself while also being able to serve as both the judge and jury. They are able to do this with what sounds like questionable issues of due process over young men and their families (and advisers who will always be a part of this) who often have limited or no resources to protect and defend their rights to gain education and compete. The institutions, who have their own significant resources to protect and defend themselves is one thing. But the kids, their families, and their futures are quite another. Maybe the time has come for the NCAA to provide the financial resources directly to the kids who get caught in these situations allowing the kids themselves to have their own individual legal rights represented and protected in the process. I think if it were set up like this the NCAA might discover their process of eligibility determination just became more streamlined, fair, and efficient.

Benz Junque 5 years, 3 months ago

So the kids should have lawyers paid for by the NCAA to help them fight the NCAA? No conflict of interest there...

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 3 months ago

The state pays for attorneys to defend people accused by the state every day. That is why they call it ethics and they have a bar minimize the impact of inherent conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest are everywhere dear friend. Just look around you.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 3 months ago

Are we seeing the sort of things that brought down scorn, etc on the IOC and FIFA?

Jared Reeves 5 years, 3 months ago

It wouldn't surprise me if the NCAA uses Mayan law, based on the outcomes.

Mark Bernat 5 years, 3 months ago

Here is a potentially logical reason for going back to 6th grade:

NCAA: He didn't take underwater basket weaving during high school courses. We require underwater basket weaving as core curriculum and his school transcripts don't cover this.

KU: scramble, scramble. After review with his high school they determined that his course work in middle school in Mali covered Underwater Basket Weaving at an advanced level. We show that he took what is an equivalant to Basic UBW during the 6th grade and Advanced UBW during his 7th grade year. We show that his UBW level is on par with most NCAA graduate students.

NCAA: Yes but we require a specific week covering UBW in a salt water environment. Can you prove that his courses from the 6th grade had this module?

This is both the logical nature and the absurdity of this situation.

Allin Herring 5 years, 3 months ago

I am over all of this! Why is it that Self can not sign a legit top 10 recruit without baggage?? (Yes I know he got Wiggins) It is no wonder the Kentucky's, Duke's and North Carolina's of the world dropped him like a hot potato. It is no wonder he was available so late in the signing process! We lost out on all the other top 10 prospects and took what was left!

Rob Bedford III 5 years, 3 months ago

And KU only got Wiggins because his brother was playing in the same state.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Julian Wright and Kelly Oubre from the top of my head. I'm sure there are others.

Bert White 5 years, 3 months ago

Unless the attorney is doing something like some of those car wreck attorneys do where he doesn't get paid unless Diallo plays (and rate paid is based on how many games he plays), his thought on if Diallo will play means little to me. What's he suppose to say, "kid's screwed, but if you keep paying me I'll keep trying"? That said he made some good points so hopefully he can work some magic.

This whole ordeal is one big cluster F, why not just make a test that kids can take before enrolling into college that proves they know enough to actually take college courses instead of looking at high school or dare I say middle school course work??? Wait a second they already do have a test like this!!!

And I know little about the guardian aspect and amateurism aspect of this case, but if someone is a legal guardian that should solve that issue. I mean even if a kid and their biological parents are dumb enough to sign guardianship over to a bloodsucking agent (basically a kid selling his soul and parents selling their kid) I'm OK with it personally even though I think it'd be a big mistake. I haven't paid enough attention to Drame and if he is someone that is either an agent or paid his parents for guardianship. Either way, are agent's kids not allowed to play college ball or are adopted kids screwed out of playing college ball (some places charge for adoption, so it's kinda the same heheh)? If the amateurism issues are something else like the current guardian taking money (see Cliff last season...) than that's something else, but I don't think I've heard anything about that.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 3 months ago

I would guess the lawyer did his homework on the case prior to accepting Diallo's guardian as a client. Good lawyers woth theie own practice don't take cases they know they're going to lose because it hurts their reputation. Don Jackson has dealt with the NCAA on multiple occasions in cases similar to this and has a great track record in those cases so there absolutely is legitimate reason to think Mr. Jackson can get Diallo on tge court this season.

Kit Duncan 5 years, 3 months ago

In the NYT article it refers to Drame' as a "handler" who "handles" a number of kids from Mali.

My guess is the investigation has more to do with possibly improper benefits. The article mentions the many ways money between handlers and the players' parents can be exchanged virtually untraceable.

It sounds like a seedy business and little is being done to stop it, especially since the Big Shoe companies have a hand in the Summer leagues.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 3 months ago

I had been harboring the thought that Drame is not doing this for nothing. Methinks this is fraught with peril.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 3 months ago

This just in: NCAA declares Lightfoot ineligible due to his school's decision to recognize Veterans Day.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 3 months ago

I've resigned myself to the fact, that Diallo will never see a minute of playing time for KU, this will continue to be drug out

Kit Duncan 5 years, 3 months ago

[Williams initially entered the recruiting circuit with some misgivings, but he soon developed a natural talent. Scan’s best player, Cheick Diallo, was spotted playing a pickup game in Bamako by Tidiane Dramé, a Malian-American, who had started a venture importing players from Mali. After hearing about Diallo, who was 6-foot-8 and still in middle school, Williams agreed to pay for his plane ticket to New York sight unseen. According to one of the numerous websites that rank teenage athletes, Diallo came into the E.Y.B.L. season as the second-ranked high-school basketball player in the country. When one reporter asked Diallo what he liked about living in the United States, he revealed both his still-maturing English and single-mindedness. “I love here because — N.B.A.!” he said. “My goal is to go to N.B.A. That was the only one thing I’m looking for is N.B.A.”]

Greg Lux 5 years, 3 months ago

This is just another example of " Those with the power make the rules ". Nothing fair about this. There is a very simple answer to this. Close the NCAAEC and allow the universities entrance offices to decide if a student is eligible to join the student body. Period. As for investigations into eligibility benefits. Prove your case or let them go. Just like holding a person in jail. Either charge him or release him. If you charge him you have until the beginning of the season to prove your case or his is free to play.

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