Originally published October 24, 2018 at 09:37a.m., updated October 24, 2018 at 03:11p.m.
Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas sophomore Silvio De Sousa will not play in Thursday’s exhibition opener against Emporia State in Allen Fieldhouse and a timeline for his return remains unknown.
KU coach Bill Self on Wednesday morning announced the Jayhawks’ decision to withhold De Sousa from competition “until we can evaluate and understand the new information,” that emerged from the recently wrapped college basketball fraud trial in New York.
During the trial, a former recruiting fixer and Adidas consultant testified that he made payments to De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne. According to that testimony, Falmagne allegedly received $2,500 for college courses to send De Sousa to KU.
Falmagne also allegedly received $60,000 from a Maryland booster. The Adidas consultant, TJ Gassnola, testified that he meant to pay $20,000 to get De Sousa out of the Maryland payment, but never did because the FBI investigation became public.
De Sousa, a native of Angola who played his high school ball at IMG Academy and graduated a semester early to join the Jayhawks last December, had previously said that he expected to play this season, despite eligibility concerns. He averaged 4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 20 games as a freshman last season.
Declining to comment on any specifics of the trial, Self later Wednesday elaborated on De Sousa’s status, which the forward from Angola first heard about Tuesday night and his teammates learned of Wednesday morning, many of them through Twitter.
“Silvio knew that this could happen,” Self said. “But he wasn’t officially told this by me until (Tuesday) night because we wanted to wait as long as we possibly could to determine if, in fact, the trial would be over so therefore maybe we would be told how the process would then take place concerning his eligibility review.
“He knows (he is being held out) for Thursday. But he also knows if (the review is) not complete, it’ll be longer than Thursday.”
Top-ranked Kansas plays its second and final exhibition game at home against Washburn on Nov. 1 and will open the regular season Nov. 6 against No. 10 Michigan State at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
In an attempt to be as clear as possible, Self spoke slowly and emphasized his attempt at clarity in the opening minutes of his hour-long breakout session with the media at Wednesday’s Big 12 media day at Sprint Center.
“There is an eligibility review that’s going to be done jointly between our university and the NCAA and that will determine when he can play and I guess you could even put the word “if” in there,” Self said after initially saying he thought he would coach De Sousa again. “But that’s something that will be determined by somebody else. Me, personally? Oh, yeah. I’m looking forward to coaching Silvio in games, but that doesn’t mean that I’m positively going to or giving you a timeline when I will.”
Asked if the review process would begin when the trial was over — a verdict declaring the three defendants guilty on all counts was read around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, near the end of Self’s breakout session — Self said he was unsure of even that.
“I think the timeline is probably in the NCAA’s hands far more than it is the university,” he said. “But I am not in contact with the NCAA personally or have been educate to what’s going on. My assumption would be that they’ll work together to try to expedite the process, but who knows what will have to go into the review to come to a conclusion.”
Self stressed throughout the day that the situation surrounding De Sousa has not had a negative affect on him, his coaching staff or the team in general.
KU forward Dedric Lawson backed that stance and said he and his teammates had tried to offer as much support as possible to De Sousa while the trial remained ongoing.
“With everything going on in his life, we try to be there for him and support him,” Lawson said. “I know it’s a tough time for him, but, as time goes on, the truth will come out. He says that all the time. And he comes to practice and plays extremely hard. Over the past two weeks, he’s been one of our best players at practice.”
Added Self of De Sousa: “He’s a kid that’s put in his time and certainly now feels sad because he’s having something taken away from him that, obviously, he did not anticipate being taken from him. But he’s a big boy, too. And we deal with this stuff, not on a constant basis, but eligibility issues are very commonplace in college athletics and guys have to deal with them.”
KU Chancellor Doug Girod and first-year athletic director Jeff Long released a joint statement Wednesday afternoon that, in part, addressed the situation surrounding De Sousa.
“So, what now? First, we will await guidance from prosecutors as to next steps regarding the criminal matter,” the statement read. “Second, once the Justice Department clears us to move forward, we will work with the NCAA to vigorously review new information presented during the trial. Third, we will continue to review the eligibility of all our student-athletes to ensure that they meet the eligibility standards of the NCAA and KU.”
When asked for clarity on when the Justice Department might clear the way to move forward, a KU official told the Journal-World the there was no known timetable.
Self said Wednesday that De Sousa would still practice with the team while being held out of competition.