Originally published July 24, 2018 at 05:30p.m., updated July 24, 2018 at 06:47p.m.

KU releases federal subpoenas in college basketball investigation

A University of Kansas basketball player wears an adidas practice jersey in this file photo from March 2016.

A University of Kansas basketball player wears an adidas practice jersey in this file photo from March 2016.


The University of Kansas was ordered to turn over text messages from coaches, contracts with Adidas and recordings of internal investigations related to the eligibility of, presumably, a student-athlete, newly released federal subpoenas show.

KU officials on Tuesday afternoon released redacted copies of two federal subpoenas seeking information as part of an FBI investigation into allegedly illegal college basketball recruiting practices across the country. KU officials last month tacitly confirmed the university had been subpoenaed in the federal investigation, but released no further details at that time

But the documents leave unclear how many, and which, student-athletes with KU connections may be under scrutiny by federal officials. KU officials redacted several names from the released subpoenas, and a spokesman declined to answer questions about how many student-athletes were listed in the documents.

On Tuesday, KU honored the request of media organizations who had sought the subpoena documents. From the documents:

• KU was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 8 and again on March 14.

• Both subpoenas seek email, text and other communications from the KU men’s basketball coaching staff. The January subpoena seeks communication between coaches and three individuals whose names are redacted, plus “any other family member or representative of (name redacted.)” The March subpoena seeks communications between coaches and at least two names that are redacted, plus “any other family member or representative of (name redacted.)

• Both subpoenas seek “enrollment forms, financial aid forms, eligibility forms including any NCAA student-athlete statements” and national letters of intent. It is unclear how many student-athletes on which federal officials requested such information, but based on the redactions, it appears to be one each in both the January and March subpoenas.

• The January subpoena seeks any communication any Kansas Athletics Department official had with any representative of Adidas, with which KU has a multimillion dollar apparel contract, and is in negotiations to sign an extension with the company. Prosecutors sought any signed or unsigned agreements KU has with Adidas.

• The January subpoena also seeks any communication KU athletics officials have had with: James Gatto, an Adidas executive who has been indicted in the alleged scheme; Merl Code, another shoe executive who also has been indicted; TJ Gassnola, an AAU coach who has plead guilty to paying family members of basketball players in order to gain commitments for certain colleges; and Christopher Rivers.

• The March subpoena seeks any documents or recordings related to an investigation into the eligibility of, presumably, at least one student-athlete. The subpoena seeks: “Any documents obtained from (redacted) or (redacted) in connection with any investigation of (redacted) eligibility.” The subpoena then makes a similar request, except, instead of documents, it seeks interview transcripts or recordings related to an eligibility investigation.

It is unclear how many documents or pieces of information KU officials turned over to federal prosecutors, or whether KU had information that was responsive to each order. Just because federal officials seek information from the university doesn’t mean such information actually exists, such as text messages or other documents.

In April, a federal indictment alleged that the mother of one KU recruit and the guardian of another KU recruit received tens of thousands of dollars as part of a scheme involving Adidas money and an AAU intermediary. The KU players were not named in the indictment, but descriptions in the indictment have led to speculation that they are former KU basketball player Billy Preston and current Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa. The indictments did not allege wrongdoing on the part of KU or its basketball staff.

KU has not publicly identified the players, and a university spokesman declined further comment about the subpoenas on Tuesday.

“These documents do not suggest any wrongdoing by the university,” Andy Hyland, a KU spokesman said via email. “We are cooperating fully with investigators in this matter. Because this is an active investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”

KU officials had tacitly confirmed last month to multiple media outlets that it had been subpoenaed in the federal investigation. But Tuesday was the first time the university released documents related to the subpoenas.


Craig Carson 1 year, 6 months ago

if the FBI ever investigates NIKE, the fallout from that is gonna be epic as im sure every major FB and BBALL program is gonna have some type of dirt in them

Craig Carson 1 year, 6 months ago

I get the feeling that the closer we get to the season the more likely DeSousa doesnt play..Honestly, Im glad the FBI is moving as fast as they are cause Id rather KU know for certain if he is gonna be ruled ineligible

Ryan Zimmerman 1 year, 6 months ago

Prediction and same thing I've been saying: Investigation cools off in the summer, heats up in the fall and close to the season. DeSousa isn't in the clear due to questions arising from the FBI and KU and Self can't knowingly play him during an investigation that could be detrimental to the entire team. Lightfoot and McCormack won't redshirt because they'll be needed. DeSousa won't see the floor again in a Jayhawk uniform

Craig Carson 1 year, 6 months ago

McCormack wasnt gonna redshirt regardless of DeSousa..he win Azibuikes main back up..Lightfoot will benefit if SD is sat out or ruled ineligible ...Self has had the reputation of sitting any player that is even suspected of not being eligible, he errs on the side of caution..I like SD, but not enough to see KU vacate games because his idiot guardian choose to take $$

Kit Duncan 1 year, 6 months ago

Just to be clear. This is an FBI investigation, NOT an NCAA investigaion. Nothing in the subpoenas would have anything to do with eligibility issues involving past or present KU players. If the NCAA chooses to investigate (and they almost certainly will), they will not be allowed to use any of the FBI’s findings, rather; they will have to open their own independent investigation.

The FBI is mainly looking for criminal activity on the part of Under Armour and any of its reps, and perhaps anyone who took a bribe and didn’t report the money to the IRS. A main threat to the players and their family/guardian is lying to FBI investigators while under oath. If they took a bribe and admit it, they would probably end up paying a fine and not doing jail time, or better yet, receive immunity for ratting out the person who paid them.

Mike Barnhart 1 year, 6 months ago

I'll assume DeSosa's guardian/AAU coach is a big target to be indicted for his role in the shoe company racket. In building their case, it makes perfect sense for the Feds to subpoena both DeSosa and KU, they're central figures in the case against the guardian! It's also totally plausible DeSosa and KU had no idea the guardian was dirty. None the less, as witnesses, they may be able to provide details important to the feds case.

Aaron Paisley 1 year, 6 months ago

There are eligibility issues in these documents because it involves money paid and received by a guardian of an NCAA athlete to influence where the kid went to school. The FBI doesn't care about the NCAA issues because that specifically is not a federal crime, but investigations for fraud, money laundering, and other issues like that are federal crimes.

The NCAA can absolutely use this investigation to determine eligibility of an athlete, especially once the investigation is done and the documents become available under FOIA and the NCAA can simply request the documents to determine any potential violations. Insomnia suspect the FBI is keeping the NCAA in the loop on this investigation as well in regards to targets and intent of their investigation even without giving the NCAA all of the details.

Craig Carson 1 year, 6 months ago

this issue wont go away without something unfavorable happening to KU or a current player..all we as fans can hope if that KU and DeSousa arent found be directly tied and were kept in the dark about what was going on..and that the NCAA takes those things into consideration before dealing out any punishments...hopefully when the dust settles, the penalty wont be KU vacating any games or postseason bans and maybe just losing DeSousa to ineligibility..I get the feeling we will know a lot more before the season..not feeling too confident about Silvio playing this year

Keith Gellar 1 year, 6 months ago

"The University of Kansas was ordered to turn over text messages from coaches"...

Lets hope Bill was smart enough to use burner phones

Dane Pratt 1 year, 6 months ago

Well that would certainly raise the level of suspicion.

Danny Hernandez 1 year, 6 months ago

With Coach Self, there would be nothing to worry about.

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