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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Board of Regents member wants KU explanation on issues related to college basketball corruption case

The pregame men's basketball crowd at Allen Fieldhouse is shown in this file photo from Dec. 2, 2009.

The pregame men's basketball crowd at Allen Fieldhouse is shown in this file photo from Dec. 2, 2009.

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A top official with the Kansas Board of Regents said he expects to receive an explanation about what a KU basketball coach meant when he was recorded on a phone call discussing a recruit and money.

Shane Bangerter, vice chair of the Board of Regents, said he’s been in communication with University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod about KU issues related to the recent federal trial involving corruption in college basketball recruiting.

Bangerter, though, said he still has some questions. The Journal-World specifically asked about a wiretapped phone conversation between KU assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend and Merl Code, a defendant who was found guilty of fraud charges related to the corruption case.

In that recording, Code told Townsend that in order to get prized recruit Zion Williamson to attend KU, it likely would require money and other inducements that are illegal under NCAA recruiting rules. According to a transcript of the call read as part of the trial proceedings, Townsend responded by saying: “I’ve just got to work and try to figure out a way because if that is what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

The full transcript of the call hasn’t been released, and the Department of Justice recently denied a Journal-World Freedom of Information Act request seeking any phone recordings involving Townsend.

Bangerter said he understood why members of the public would have questions about what Townsend meant.

“Certainly as a regent, I have the same questions and certainly would like answers and will be in full communication with the chancellor in that regard,” Bangerter said after Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting in Emporia.

The Journal-World asked Bangerter — who as vice chair was the highest ranking regent official at the meeting since the board’s chair was absent — about the college basketball corruption case.

KU has provided no public explanation about Townsend’s comments, but the assistant coach remains active with the team. Last week, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long declined to comment on whether he had sought an explanation from Townsend. A spokesman for the chancellor’s office has not responded to an Oct. 29 email from the Journal-World seeking information about the matter. The spokesman also has not returned phone messages left with him over the last several days.

Bangerter said issues surrounding basketball recruiting allegations could have a negative impact on the university’s reputation, but he expressed confidence that KU leaders would address any issues appropriately.

“Obviously, the university’s image and KU Athletics’ image is extremely important to the university and the state as a whole,” said Bangerter, a Dodge City regent who graduated from KU’s law school. “Those entities, basketball in particular, have great people in place and procedures in place.

“That is not to to say that you can’t make mistakes and people can do things that aren’t appropriate. The thing is to do what we can do to have the protections in place to protect the university and protect the program. I have full faith that those measures are in place and are being followed.”

Bangerter said he has also had conversations about whether the oversight of college athletic departments at the state’s regent universities should be modified. That discussion hasn’t reached the full board yet, and Bangerter said it is one he’s still contemplating.

“As an individual regent, I have had some conversations myself in regards to board oversight of athletics in general at our six regent universities and whether the level we currently have is appropriate,” Bangerter said. “Largely the CEOs (presidents and chancellors) handle that responsibility and report to the board. I think that has worked well over the years, but I also want to make sure that I feel comfortable with that model.”

Bangerter said he did not expect the Board of Regents to become involved in the decision of whether KU should extend its multimillion-dollar sponsorship agreement with Adidas, who has now had three employees or consultants convicted in the case. Bangerter, though, said any agreement would be expected to comply with the Board of Regents' policy regarding contracts that universities may enter into.

“We do have a policy in regards to contracts and the approval process,” Bangerter said. “It is pretty detailed in regards to how all that should work. A lot of the responsibility falls on the chancellor, and then, obviously, we hold the chancellor accountable.”

Comments

Phil Leister 1 week, 1 day ago

At least Chad has some job security writing about all this.

Eliott Reeder 1 week, 1 day ago

I mean, it seems pretty darn obvious to me that "I’ve just got to work and try to figure out a way because if that is what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way" simply means: "Gee whiz, we've never done anything like that here at Kansas so we'll just have to find some way to put in some extra effort to convince him to come here despite his desire for big bags of money and stuff because we simply don't condone that type of thing around here (we're not Duke for goodness sakes), but we definitely want him for ten months so we'll just have to do it some way, and by DO IT of course I mean the previously mentioned extra effort in talking him into coming here... have you seen our recent upgrades to McCarthy Hall ?!?"

Danny Hernandez 1 week, 1 day ago

I can't believe Zion and Duke aren't being pulled into this. IF it was going to take bucks to get Zion, what did duke offer? write about that

Joe Black 1 week, 1 day ago

Great sensationalized title to this article. It makes it seem as if this regent is out demanding answers and that is not the case at all. He just answered a "leading" question which allow this reporter to run with it in a sensationalized manner. This helps no one.

Barry Weiss 1 week, 1 day ago

I can't believe for a minute that Self, Townsend and all the coach's have not been called in to discuss in extreme detail everything related to this case with the attorney's, Girod, etc.

Dustin Peterson 1 week, 1 day ago

If someone called me and said they'd slash my ex's tires, I'd probably ask them how much they want. Print it.

Robert Brock 1 week, 1 day ago

Lotta sales-talk. Nothing but blather. Nothing burger...

Pius Waldman 1 week, 1 day ago

Poor Chad: Dang it why don't I get a response. Don't they realize who I am.

Jaston Archie 1 week, 1 day ago

My hope is that Self really does have evidence that Kentucky, Duke and UNC have done very similar things bc we know they do. When the NCAA comes investigating, show them the evidence and how prevalent it is and then they’ll back up bc they can’t afford to have all the blue bloods brought down

Jeff Coffman 1 week, 1 day ago

Did this Board of Regent brake protocol by talking to the press? I can't imagine that we want Board of Regents talking to the press about Board related matters. Typically you have a public relations department to handle communications with the press. Can this Board of Regent be removed?

Mike Hart 1 week, 1 day ago

Why do you want the Regent removed? For doing what the University should be doing? Talking to the press... sharing/releasing documents under FOI act... answering ANY questions? Chancellor maybe returning or at least acknowledging one of many phone calls. KU is circling the wagons... trying to ride / wait this out. What is there to hide, KU? Why not let Townsend explain the "innocent" nature of his texts with Code? Let's talk about Josh Selby, Cliff Jackson, Josh Jackson (Apple Jones), Billy Preston (Nicole Player), Silvio DeSousa, Townsend's comments on being willing to make it happen with Zion Williamson. All of this without anyone on the coaching staff or affiliated with the University knowing it. Kansas spent 6 weeks investigating Billy Preston's car and the the "financial picture" behind it.. .and never found out ANYTHING about Adidas paying Nicole Player $90K? Ludicrous...

I guess Kansas must have the worst luck... so much negative attention casting dark shadows on the University. And the University doing absolutely nothing to shed any light or clean up their image. Just radio silence. If Adidas "defrauded" Kansas University, then please tell me why we are looking to share a bed.. and extend our contract with Adidas? They damaged our reputation... jeopardized our basketball program... ruined the amateurism of players like DeSousa... so......... let's continue to leave open the possibility to EXTEND our contract with them? Makes perfect sense I guess?

Danny Hernandez 1 week, 1 day ago

so a few bad apples mean Adidas is corrupt? The entire company? A worldwide company?

Jeff Coffman 1 week ago

If the Board of Regent broke protocol then he should be removed...yes. You keep bringing up Townsend broke rules, but we are waiting for facts to come forward.

The fact that there are things that are private to the Board of Regents and there is information that is communicated to these to look after the best interest of the university and they choose to disregard that, is a severe issue.

Suzi Marshall 1 week, 1 day ago

I don't see this case ending anytime soon. A UCF athlete just settled a suite about the use of his likeness (https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-donald-de-la-haye-lawsuit-settle-20181102-story.html), which many wanted to eventually combine with the west coast anti-trust suites filed against the NCAA. I think the NCAA has been operating for a long time under some archaic regulations, that could be found to be illegal under the first amendment and the Sherman Anti-Trust Laws. This is headed to the SCOTUS. IMO, the NCAA is on the wrong side of the law and history. If they don't adapt soon, the SCOTUS will force change. The NCAA needs to stop making (or trying to make) criminals out of people simply trying to live there lives. Maybe Silvio will need to sit a few games but that should be all.

I've said many times in this comment sections, this is madness on the part of the NCAA. George Will agrees with me.https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2018/11/04/george-f-will-madness/

Mike Hart 1 week, 1 day ago

Regardless, the rules are the rules. And it doesn't give KU carte blanche to break them... or "look the other way" while Adidas pays the families. Even George Will mocks KU the "victim"... he couldn't have referred to KU that way any more tongue in cheek.

Jeff Coffman 1 week ago

Doesn't give the Board of Regent the right to go forward in the press when there is protocol for the press communication. Do you pick and choose which rules to follow? If this BOR broke the rules, why aren't you upset about that?

Marius Rowlanski 6 days, 9 hours ago

It's The Board of Regents, not some mobsters sworn to secrecy.

Jim Stauffer 1 week ago

The most fascinating part of the Townsend phone call to me is Williamson ended up somewhere else. Now, let's assume the apparent Journal World position that Townsend found the money and offered it to Williamson. Are we to believe he was insulted by their compliance with his request and went to Duke because they were above violation of the rules? Not me. If I am the NCAA I would be investigating Nike and Duke to see what they offered that topped the KU and Adidas offer. But, of course, the most powerful sports media is a Duke based group called ESPN and they have not even thought such a thing could have occurred. They are busy crucifying the one who did not give money because they believe we offered it instead of the one who DID apparently offer and give money to the recruit. This is so obvious and yet no one is sniffing around it at all.

Chad Lawhorn 1 week ago

Hi Jim: As a point of clarification, the Journal-World has not taken a position that Townsend offered money to the recruit in question. We have never reported that or implied it. We, like many media outlets, have reported on the transcribed phone call that was read in court. We, however, haven't made any judgements about what Townsend meant by his comments. Instead, we have just asked a couple of follow up questions. 1. Has KU received an explanation from Townsend about what he meant? 2. Does KU intend to provide an explanation to the public about what he meant? We now are asking some other individuals that are involved with the governance of KU about what their expectations are for an explanation. Thanks, Chad Lawhorn, Editor.

Dane Pratt 1 week ago

What makes you think the NCAA is not looking at Duke? The schools being mentioned in the media thus far are Adidas schools because that was who was on trial.

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