Lahaina, Hawaii — Tired of waiting on the NCAA to “do their job,” Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self says the Jayhawks have taken the Cheick Diallo eligibility matter “into our own hands.”
To that end, Self says two groups hired by KU that include “experts with PhD’s” — have determined the 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Mali has “got plenty of core (coursework) to be eligible,” the exasperated coach said Saturday from the Westin Hotel in Maui, team headquarters for the 2015 Maui Invitational.
Self said KU submitted the findings of the two groups — one said Diallo had 15 of 16 core courses successfully completed; the other said he had 16 completed at Our Savior New American High School with courses completed in Mali putting him well over the requirement of 16 core courses — to the NCAA on Friday night, the Jayhawks expecting an answer ASAP.
“We are just real disappointed we haven’t received it (NCAA ruling) yet,” Self said. “We understand it’s a weekend, but to me a weekend is totally irrelevant due to the fact this young man has been waiting and has been put in limbo six months.
KU coach Bill Self spoke to a few reporters following Saturday's practice in Maui and the main topic of conversation was the eligibility of freshman Cheick Diallo.
“This is something if there was any partnership at all between the school and NCAA we could have worked through this,” Self added, specifically pointing out problems he has with the NCAA’s handling of this case. “It’s disappointing but hopefully he’ll be playing very soon.”
Self said the Jayhawks learned there was a “problem” with the NCAA Eligibility Center’s concern about initial eligibility of Diallo “back on Sept. 1.
“Since then we have asked in writing numerous times to respond (to request for specifics on problems they had with Diallo’s high school coursework). On Nov. 5th or 6th we were finally told detailed (information) what the issues were and it took us basically one week to get good information that they had months to get,” Self said.
That information was supplied by the two groups KU hired to look into Diallo’s case.
“If we had known ... if we were going to do their (NCAA) job for them and research all this stuff, then all we would have to know was back in early September what the problems were and we could have done this and this young man ... there never would have been a question about his eligibility at least from our standpoint,” Self said. “And based on what they have told us — because they said there’s nothing fraudulent, nothing going on that he has done wrong — it’s just the fact they didn’t believe the classes were of quality credit or quality enough. Experts with PhD’s we’ve been told now (said) that is not true.”
In fact ... “we found out there’s 10 courses (at Our Savior New American, which Diallo attended in New York) the NCAA did not count toward eligibility that these two independent review teams did count,” Self said.
Self did not name the independent groups hired by KU by name.
“One is a team that I believe covers curriculum for over 300 (school) districts,” Self said, “if I’m not mistaken Los Angeles being one of them. The other is a team of people that teaches people how to read curriculum in understanding what is design and core credit and all that stuff. We went in two different directions to make sure we were not thinking wrong in how it was presented to us. We are 100 percent confident these two entities read his stuff accurately.”
Self, who has been calm in his public statements throughout the process, admitted Saturday: “I’ve been upset the entire time.”
Even moreso lately because ... “the NCAA was given a list of 19 things 11 days ago on discrepancies or missteps or things that we really struggle with. They said they would respond to us in writing and they’ve yet to do that, so we decided to go ahead and take matters in our own hands.
“They brought up class attendance (of Diallo) which wasn’t true. They’ve brought up curriculum changes which weren’t true. They’ve brought up several things that weren’t 100 percent accurate. To say we’re frustrated that he’s not playing yet is an understatement. The NCAA received basically the same reports we received yesterday evening and we’ve requested an immediate answer. That answer has not been sent to us yet.”
By the way if the hangup concerns Diallo’s relationship with his guardian, Tidiane Drame, Self says that issue should have been addressed long ago, say last summer.
Obviously Self is hoping Diallo is cleared at any time, certainly before Monday’s 8 p.m., tip against Chaminade in Lahaina Civic Center.
“We’ve kept attorneys out of it as much as we can. We’ve kept it out of the media. We haven’t told anybody what’s going on. Here’s the bottom line. That’s it. This is it,” Self said.
In other words ... KU wants an answer — weekend or not — now.
Steamy practice: The Jayhawks practiced for 45 minutes at a Maui high school on Saturday. The building had no air conditioning system.
“Practice was spirited but we had to cut it way short because of the humidity and guys sweating. We couldn’t hang onto the ball and that had to be the primary reason we missed all our shots,” Self said with a smile, “because the balls were so wet. The floor was so slick.” KU will practice today at the Maui Civic Center which has air conditioned.
This, that: Self said freshman Lagerald Vick (scratched eye) would be able to play Monday. “He’ll wear goggles. He’s fine,” Self said. ... The Jayhawks were to attend a luau on Saturday night.
Greene update: About Brannen Greene, who has been suspended six games, Self said: “He’s still part of the team. I will never discuss what happens in the locker room or with a player publicly. We’ll look forward to him being part of the team, just not this week. He will not travel with us this week.”
Asked if this could be a learning experience for Greene, whose dad said had a debate (about minutes) with Self during and after Tuesday’s game against Michigan State, Self said, “Yeah I guess so.”