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Originally published April 13, 2018 at 12:42p.m., updated April 13, 2018 at 03:53p.m.

Chancellor sees no need for independent investigation of KU Athletics in wake of indictment

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and a KU-branded adidas basketball are pictured in Journal-World file photos.

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and a KU-branded adidas basketball are pictured in Journal-World file photos.

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University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod said Friday that he doesn’t plan to seek an independent investigation of the Kansas athletics department in the wake of a growing college basketball scandal.

A federal indictment on Tuesday alleges a family member and a guardian of two KU basketball players were paid, in total, at least $130,000 as part of a pay-to-play scheme by an executive of Adidas, which has a multimillion-dollar partnership with Kansas Athletics Inc.

Girod said he has “complete confidence” in the athletic department’s adherence to NCAA rules.

“The university constantly evaluates its processes to ensure we are in compliance and using best practices,” Girod said in a statement. “Last fall when news of the FBI probe first broke, the NCAA directed all Division I programs to examine their men’s basketball programs. We did that, with third-party assistance, and at the conclusion of that process, we expressed our complete confidence that our staff understand and follow the rules — and that hasn’t changed. 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.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what specific findings the NCAA-mandated examination referred to by Girod produced. The Journal-World has asked the chancellor’s office for all written reports related to that examination.

In October, the Journal-World reported that the athletic department hired the Overland Park law firm of Bond, Schoeneck and King to assist with the review. But, at the time, KU Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony noted that the department wasn’t conducting an outside review and that most of the work would be done by KU staff.

“We are not asking them to come in and conduct an examination,” Marchiony said of the law firm. “We’re going to ask them to help us make sure that we’re doing it correctly and that we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.”

Since the pay-for-play scandal emerged in September, KU has become more directly involved. Tuesday’s indictment was the first one that mentioned KU. Tuesday’s indictment also shed more light on the practices of an Adidas executive and two Adidas consultants who are alleged to have played key roles in the scheme.

One of the Adidas consultants reportedly is a former Massachusetts AAU coach with a significant criminal history, who also had been punished by the NCAA for alleged ties to an NBA agent. The New York Times, citing two sources close to the investigation, reported T.J. Gassnola is the Adidas consultant who is implicated in the indictment. The indictment alleges he had direct contact with a guardian of a KU recruit and arranged for at least $40,000 in payments to the guardian.

Despite Gassnola’s history — he has admitted to once being involved in bookmaking — he continued to be employed as a consultant by Adidas, according to the indictment.

KU officials must decide whether they want to remain affiliated with Adidas. The school and the company announced in September a $191 million, 14-year extension for Adidas to serve as the shoe and athletic apparel provider for KU Athletics. However, that deal has not been signed.

On Friday, Girod offered little guidance on when or whether the extension would be signed.

“We constantly evaluate our arrangements with partners and sponsors,” Girod said in a statement. “Like universities across the country, we will continue to monitor the situation, evaluate new information, and make decisions that are in the best interest of our university and students.”

The chancellor’s statements on Friday did not address in detail several other questions posed by the Journal-World. They include:

• Whether the chancellor will play any formal role in authorizing the extension of the Adidas contract or whether that will be left to the discretion of the athletics department.

• Whether the university has employed anyone to evaluate what type of penalties it could face from the NCAA — and what type of defense may be required — if the allegations in the indictment are proven true.

Currently, KU coaches or officials are not the subject of any allegations in the criminal indictment. That is not the case with the three other schools that were included in Tuesday’s indictment. While the indictment doesn’t include charges against any coaches, it describes potential wrongdoing on the part of coaches at Louisville, Miami and North Carolina State.

As Girod’s statement notes, KU is listed as a victim in the indictment. The case is built on the legal theory that the university was defrauded as a result of student-athletes who were ineligible to compete taking scholarship dollars and financial aid from the university. The other three schools, despite allegations of wrongdoing by some school officials, also were listed as victims in the indictment.

Comments

Marius Rowlanski 8 months ago

I think NOT having an independent review of the athletic department sends the right message.

KU has not been a target of the of the FBI investigation and I think that the FBI has been looking at Kansas as a victim of fraud, not the perpetrator.

I think Self will lead us out of this cloud of suspicion covering ALL of college basketball.

Steve Corder 8 months ago

Girod is absolutely correct!

What is the writer’s complaint about waiting 48 hours for a formal statement? Mr. Lawhorn, do you prefer a “tweet” from the “hip” within a few minutes of the indictment being announced?

Jeff Coffman 8 months ago

All of you thinking that Girod would be responding from the hip, forget that we were mentioned over two months ago, Girod should have had a lot more preparation then he has.

Currently, we are the only school listed as a "victim only"; however, knowing the other three are not, and knowing that the FBI is not complete, I would be preparing. Something Zenger hasn't done since he got here, and Girod is placing full confidence in him (that is what is even scarier about this process).

I get that Girod might not know we have a football team, but the basketball team is the #1 advertisement of the University, if he can't protect that, he shouldn't be the chancellor. I've said that for six months now.

Charlie Gaughn 8 months ago

So where is our beloved AD again during all of this? Girod and Self are fielding all of the questions but wouldn't Zenger be the one dealing direct with Adidas? We've watched him sit idly by as Charlie Weis decimated the football program to the lowest level in history. The eligibility problems with players has skyrocketed since his arrival. Girod's largest mistake, to date, is not having shown Sheahon the door to the powder room after yet another dismal year in football.

All indicaions are that this football season will only add to the worst stretch in the history of the program. Will Girod continue to support Zenger? Will he fire Beaty and keep Zenger (since he's a nice guy and Girod wants the $350 M facilty improvements)? What drama!

We need an AD that understands his role. Nice guys are great, when greeting at Wal-Mart. It's time we get an AD that demands compliance, academic success, and success on the playing field. Smiling behind the bench while sitting with Max Falkenstein just won't cut it anymore.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months ago

He kept his mouth shut and didn't say anything worth quoting by any of the news media.

Overall, that's coming out ahead.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months ago

And how do we replace the HUGE financial commitments? We should see how far up this goes in the Adidas corporate chain before making any rash decisions.

David Kelley-Wood 8 months ago

So, does being described as a "victim" suggest that there's going to be some sort of adverse consequence for KU? I'm not suggesting that's the case, and I hope it isn't, but you have to wonder, don't you?

Marcia Parsons 8 months ago

I don't understand what you're saying, David. How could being a victim suggest adverse consequences?

Mike Greer 8 months ago

The University has already been victimized, Billy Preston took a scholarship and didn't play because he wasn't eligible. If Silvio is declared ineligible, that's another scholarship wasted. Not to mention potential revenue losses from the bad press. Essentially, if someone does something that causes you harm, financial or otherwise, you're a victim.

Barry Weiss 8 months ago

I agree with others here, why is the writer of this article posturing this as if KU has done something wrong....."evaluating penalties....preparing a defense" . Nothing so far indicates anything other than the fact that the University was duped by some cheaters not associated with KU. It is not good for the University to have tabloid type articles coming out of our own back yard. Report the facts, no opinion of supposition !

Edward Daub 8 months ago

If KU is Truly a Victim in this Scenario, I Totally Support Signing a 191 Million $ Extension over 14 Years as Comforting Compensation for KU's Emotional Distress.

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