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Monday, October 22, 2018

Jury takes the reins in college hoops trial

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse, center, is the site of the 2018 college basketball corruption trial in New York City. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse, center, is the site of the 2018 college basketball corruption trial in New York City. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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After a three-day break following closing arguments last Thursday, the federal trial on corruption in college basketball will be in the hands of the jury beginning today.

But the verdict, whenever it is read, is not expected to have any impact on the immediate future of the Kansas basketball program. Even though much testimony in the trial has included allegations about actions involving KU, no university coaches or officials are on trial.

Instead, the Jayhawks will enter into a new phase in the proceedings, with KU’s athletic department, chancellor's office, head coach Bill Self and, eventually, the NCAA all playing a role in what’s next in Lawrence.

To this point, Self and various KU administrators have been reserved in their comments about the details of the trial, saying through KU spokesman Joe Monaco that it is “not appropriate for the university to comment on these topics while legal proceedings are ongoing.”

It remains to be seen whether that stance changes when the trial wraps.

KU was a central figure throughout much of the three-week trial aimed at determining whether former Adidas executives Jim Gatto and Merl Code, along with middleman Christian Dawkins, had defrauded a handful of college basketball programs by arranging payments for players and their families. However, any future action that impacts KU will come from the university, Self or the NCAA — not the federal government.

Because the guardian of current KU forward Silvio De Sousa was alleged to have received $2,500 for online classes and, according to testimony, engaged in discussions about receiving a $20,000 payment from Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola, a star witness for the prosecution, De Sousa’s status for the upcoming season has drawn a lot of attention.

Self, at KU’s media day on Oct. 10, said he and his staff were taking the approach that De Sousa’s situation would have a positive resolution. Self added, “but that was also based on the information that we had. Who knows what could potentially happen in the next whatever period of time.”

Those comments came when the trial was six days old and before most of the fireworks from Gassnola’s testimony had surfaced.

It’s worth noting that former KU forward Billy Preston, whose name also surfaced during the trial as a result of his mother, Nicole Player, allegedly having received nearly $90,000 from Gassnola for Preston to sign with Kansas, played in all three of KU’s exhibition games last season before being held out of every regular season game while he was with the team as the university sought a clearer financial picture on the car Preston was driving during a one-car noninjury accident a day after KU’s season began.

“Our decision to play will be based on the facts that come out in correspondence with the NCAA,” Self said at KU media day. “So it’s not going to be, ‘What does Kansas do?’ It’s going to be what we think is the right approach to obviously try to get to the facts to determine what the situation really is.”

Self and the rest of the Big 12 head coaches will be in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday for Big 12 media day, and the Jayhawks will open exhibition play in a home game against Emporia State on Thursday.

Comments

Dane Pratt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Even though technically we are not on trial I have mixed feelings about the verdict. It might be to our advantage if Adidas is found to be not guilty but I don’t like the idea of them getting away with their misdeeds. And I wonder if a not guilty verdict will halt the future trials involving Nike and UA. They may not directly involve KU but it doesn’t mean our name won’t get dragged through the mud.

Michael Maris 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Dane,

I believe that the fact that Kansas has even been mentioned in this trial, outside of the Kansas Alumni and Fan base, the Jayhawks name has already been dragged through the mud. So in the end, the true deciding factor comes down to just how muddy will this mess get for Bill Self and staff.

David Howell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The question is how much the NCAA will get involved and how long that process will take. With Kansas University the NCAA likes to drag out the proceedings while other blue blood schools seem to get quicker verdicts / rulings.

Robert Brock 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If the jury finds the accused INNOCENT, that means that the jury believed that Bill Self corrupted these wonderful cherubs.

C’mon! These dudes were creepy sharks! Thugs! GUILTY!

Dirk Medema 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Has the trial really only been about Billy and Silvio? Weren't coaches at 4 schools implicated? Did we only get the KU portion of the prosecution? Something seems to be missing?

Michael Maris 1 month, 2 weeks ago

That's been my thought as well. But, I assumed (and we know what that can lead to) that the LJW Staff only covered information that was pertinent to KU Jayhawks situation. So hopefully, the LJW staff will respond to your initial question.

Shannon Gustafson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This was a trial for a single individual from Adidas (Gatto) so only a limited amount of evidence collected by the FBI was presented. KU was a large part of it since we are Adidas' #1 school. With that said, we did get cherry-picked information presented to us here.

Barry Weiss 1 month, 2 weeks ago

there is no pretty way to paint this picture. I just think its a risk to play Silvio.

Craig Carson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

same here..no other player on this team is in trouble so you'd hate to risk a whole season on a player that you KNOW could be ineligible

Dane Pratt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It is a risk but if Bill decides to sit him it will likely be for the entire season. We cannot expect the NCAA to make any sort of ruling in the 2018-19 season. They move at a snails pace and the trials are not over after the current verdict with Adidas has been rendered.

Pius Waldman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

My wishes are that a Silvio from Africa who clearly didn't cause reasons to not play college ball will not be held responsible for actions of others.

Armen Kurdian 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Silvio & Billy both...and let's not forget what happened to Cliff. Families, corporations, greed, ruined the college careers of the latter two and I hope it doesn't happen with Silvio. Silvio can't play IMHO unless someone else gets punished or severely sanctioned, otherwise, there's no consequences for bad behavior. It's just unfortunate that he might have to bear them despite at first glance to have done nothng wrong.

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