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Originally published April 19, 2019 at 03:36p.m., updated April 19, 2019 at 07:47p.m.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa declares for NBA draft, will return to KU if NCAA appeal is granted

University of Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa speaks with media members on Friday afternoon, April, 19, 2019, for the first time since the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. De Sousa, seated next to his lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said he will enter the 2019 NBA Draft, but will return to the Jayhawks if KU's appeal, submitted in mid-April, regains him eligibility.

University of Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa speaks with media members on Friday afternoon, April, 19, 2019, for the first time since the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. De Sousa, seated next to his lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said he will enter the 2019 NBA Draft, but will return to the Jayhawks if KU's appeal, submitted in mid-April, regains him eligibility.

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With his appeal of a two-year suspension by the NCAA now formally filed, the path forward is clear for Kansas sophomore Silvio De Sousa.

If the appeal is granted, De Sousa will return to Kansas for the 2019-20 season. If it is denied, he will leave.

That much was learned Friday afternoon during an interview requested by the Journal-World, where De Sousa and his attorney, Scott Tompsett, sat down to discuss the forward’s future and the toll his ongoing battle for eligibility with the NCAA has taken on his psyche, his game and his future.

Asked to clarify his plans, which were outlined in a letter sent by his attorney to the NCAA that accompanied KU’s appeal, De Sousa, who Friday declared for the NBA Draft, said he would return to KU if he’s allowed to play during the 2019-20 season.

“I will be back for sure,” he said.

And if the appeal is denied?

“I will be gone for sure,” De Sousa explained.

Throughout the 12-month ordeal that began with De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, being linked to a pay-for-play scheme involving Adidas bag man T.J. Gassnola last April, and included the NCAA suspension in February along with Thursday’s appeal by KU, De Sousa has remained upbeat and determined to help both himself and the Kansas basketball program in any way he could.

None of it, however, has been easy.

De Sousa has leaned on his brother and girlfriend, a KU softball player, for emotional support and done his best to shield his mother from the waiting game that has been a part of his every day life.

“I try not to talk to my mom about this situation because whenever she asks me, ‘Have you heard anything back from the NCAA or from school,’ and I tell her not yet, I can feel the difference in her voice, that she’s really down about it,” De Sousa said Friday. “It’s just hard to deal with it when I know my mom is suffering more than I am. I can feel the sadness in her voice.”

De Sousa has maintained his innocence throughout the past year, saying multiple times to multiple outlets that he never took money or knew of any wrongdoing.

Repeat inquiries of such facts were posed before Friday’s interview, but Tompsett said Friday was a day for De Sousa to tell his story perseverance not to discuss actions that cost De Sousa a year of eligibility.

“This is a young man who is completely and totally innocent,” Tompsett said. “He’s cooperated fully with the investigation. He answered every question asked of him. He’s done everything asked of him. And the facts are undisputed that he was not involved in any way whatsoever with what the adults were doing in this case, T.J. Gassnola and Fenny Falmagne.”

Put more bluntly, Tompsett said, “There’s nothing that Silvio could’ve done differently in this case to avoid the situation that he is in now.”

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University of Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa speaks with media members on Friday afternoon, April, 19, 2019, for the first time since the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. De Sousa, seated next to his lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said he will enter the 2019 NBA Draft, but will return to the Jayhawks if KU's appeal, submitted this week, regains him eligibility.

Rather than let the NCAA’s initial ruling defeat or define him, De Sousa, who hails from Angola and came to the United about five years ago to pursue his dream of someday playing professional basketball, has chosen to use it to fuel him.

“I think the day I found out I couldn’t play was the hardest one,” he said Friday. “And when they released I was ruled (out) for two seasons. Those two days were the worst. I didn’t have much to do so I just decided to go to the gym and work the stress out of it.”

Never was that more important than the night of Feb. 1, when De Sousa first learned of his suspension.

After hearing the news himself, he sent his girlfriend a text message asking if she had seen it. She had.

“She noticed I was really down and the only thing she said was, ‘Let’s go downstairs. Do you want to shoot (baskets) or do you want to go to a movie,’” recalled De Sousa. “And I said, ‘Let’s go to the gym.’ I had flip-flops on and we were just shooting and shooting for at least five or six hours.”

Tompsett checked in on De Sousa that same night. What he received in reply was a video of De Sousa teaching his girlfriend how to shoot hoops.

These days, De Sousa is still in the gym with that kind of fire, though maybe for shorter periods of time.

As recently as Thursday night, the 6-foot-9 power forward who played a key role in getting KU to the Final Four during his freshman season posted to his social media story a video of himself drenched in sweat inside the McCarthy Hall gymnasium, with the time stamp of 1:40 a.m. hovering over the picture.

Reminders that he is still a basketball player and his future is still bright have not been hard to come by for De Sousa. They just have come in different forms. Rather than hearing the roar of the crowd and starring on game night, he’s had to win during practice as a member of the scout team.

“I had a lot more fun this year on the scout team just because I knew I was helping the team in some way that was big time,” De Sousa said with a smile.

With the season behind him and hope on the horizon — Tompsett said he thought the appeal would be reviewed quickly and that a ruling could come as soon as next week — De Sousa finds himself at a bit of a crossroads.

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University of Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa speaks with media members on Friday afternoon, April, 19, 2019, for the first time since the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. De Sousa, seated next to his lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said he will enter the 2019 NBA Draft, but will return to the Jayhawks if KU's appeal, submitted this week, regains him eligibility.

The early-entry deadline for the NBA Draft arrives Sunday and De Sousa, after conversations with his family, coaches and attorney, said he believed that putting himself on a guaranteed path to showcasing his basketball talents was the right move. But he does not want to leave Kansas.

“Playing second semester last year wasn’t enough to prove or show who I am,” he said. “I truly believe that there is something (positive) that will show up very soon. I mean, if I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t say that I’m coming back to Kansas.”

Why the hope?

“Just by knowing what I have done and what I haven’t done, De Sousa said. “Just knowing the truth keeps my hopes up.”

And why the draft? Simple. Options.

But it’s more than that. And De Sousa, who has grown up in ways he never expected he would have to during his time in America, made sure to keep that at the front of his mind while deciding whether to declare for the draft or wait for a resolution.

“I remember, like three days ago, asking myself, ‘Are you just making this decision to declare for the draft because you have this stress or are you declaring for the draft because it has been your dream and you’re trying to do this for your future,’” De Sousa began. “I chose to declare for the draft because it’s a dream of mine and not because this situation is forcing me to do that.”

While his attitude and support system have kept his spirits up during this trying time, De Sousa knows he’s not all the way back yet. But his own positivity and Tompsett’s confidence have him believing better days are ahead.

Tompsett’s letter, which is four pages long and divided into five sections, carries an impassioned tone and requests that the Student-Athlete Reinstatement committee that will review De Sousa’s appeal — a different group than the one that handed down the suspension — grant “immediate reinstatement of Silvio’s eligiblity.”

“I’m making the point this is fundamentally unfair,” Tompsett said in his explanation of the tone of the letter. “I don’t want to dismiss or trivialize the fact that we have very strong legal arguments. So I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea of, ‘Well, lawyer’s arguing emotion because he doesn’t have the law on his side or the bylaws.’ We’ve got the bylaws on our side. But I want this committee not just to focus on the bylaws and the legalese and the legal arguments. I want them to understand the human element, because I think that that is as compelling, if not more of a compelling argument in this case.”

On Friday, Tompsett spoke with confidence about why he thinks that goal would be reached.

“They get it wrong,” he said of the NCAA. “But they don’t always get it wrong. And, of all the cases that I’ve worked on, it’s hard for me to remember a more compelling case, strictly on just fundamental fairness. That’s why I’m confident that they’re going to look at this, hopefully with a different perspective and more clearly than it was looked at the first time, and I hope Silvio’s going to be playing next year as a Jayhawk. … I’m confident because our case is very strong.”

Tompsett credited KU for its extraordinary efforts in pursuing De Sousa’s eligibility and said that the university’s aggressive and thorough measures to support De Sousa were made all the more impressive by its willingness to stick with it through “by far the longest reinstatement case I’ve ever been involved in.”

“Typically these cases are handled by the compliance officer and the AD looks at the request and signs off on it,” said Tompsett, who has more than 25 years of work in all areas of NCAA infractions and compliance work to his name. “The athletic administration (at KU) has been deeply involved in this case. The executive administration, up to and including the chancellor, have been personally involved in this case. They have supported Silvio throughout this process. They have committed significant and substantial resources to this, in time, in effort, retaining outside counsel, just countless hours put into this.”

Said De Sousa of what it meant to have so many people fighting for him: “I don’t think I could ask for better support than I have right now from Kansas athletic department and also Kansas fans. And I’m just so thankful to have them here right next to me.”

Because of that, De Sousa wants to continue to show his appreciation well into the future.

“Kansas changed my life,” he said. “Not many people where I’m from get to be where I am right now. And Kansas gave me opportunities, so I feel like I have a lot to give to them.”

“When I got ruled out, I remember thinking they took away the athlete, not the student part,” added De Sousa, who has a cumulative grade-point average of 2.79 but seen it skyrocket to 3.5 during the current semester. “All I lost this year was just the opportunity to show what I could do. But, otherwise, I haven’t lost anything.”

Comments

Michael Sillman 4 months ago

Does anyone know the status of DeSousa’s current relationship with his slimeball guardian?

Brianna Zaleski 4 months ago

Helluva statement by the attorney. If the NCAA cares about STUDENTS, like they claim, SDS needs to be reinstated. He’s not an NBA player, yet anyway, so he’ll end up toiling around Europe (which is ok), or coming back to college where he belongs. Playing basketball and earning a degree that he can fall back on if basketball doesn’t pan out. That’s the idea, @NCAA, right?

Bryce Landon 4 months ago

I'm selfish. I want Silvio to stay at Kansas. But there's no point in him hanging around KU if the NCAA upholds their ban. He'd be better off making money to play basketball than riding the pine.

Suzi Marshall 4 months ago

God would I love for Silvio to come back next year and totally dominate.... resulting in a top 10 draft status!!!

Dirk Medema 4 months ago

While it's not going to happen, there absolutely is a point in him hanging around KU even if the NCAA upholds the suspension. It's call a degree and can be combined with development, a dominant senior year and a high draft pick = $$$$$$$

Yes, he can develop elsewhere, but not while earning a degree.

And he can make money now, but not nearly as much as he would after dominating his senior year.

He would have so much publicity for making the investment.

It won't happen, but there is a point for it.

Layne Pierce 4 months ago

This two-year suspension is so unreasonable and so unfair. One of the toughest penalties ever given to a player, who was originally declared eligible by the NCAA.

This should never happen to another player.

We were penalized without a hearing.

RCJH

Brett McCabe 4 months ago

It's a virtual death penalty for a kid's career. It's beyond unreasonable. Forget for a moment what occurred in Silvio's case and think to yourself....what could a student athlete do that would earn a 2-year ban?

Where the membership group that KU belongs to goes astray is here: they punish only those who they can punish, with a goal to deter. They can't punish Adidas, they can't punish mentors or moms, or agents, or sales reps....so they punish people who aren't responsible.

Because I'm telling you this: Zion just won the Wooden award, he was an intensely recruiting high school student and I guarantee that he didn't give a sh*t about money from a shoe company for 5 months at Duke. It was all of the adults in the room, and their egos and their house payments. Just ask Cliff.

What's the answer? Punish the member institutions. The NCAA negotiates TV contracts, let them withhold the money, ban a school from play, institute the death penalty. But give every kid on the roster complete immunity.

I had a boss once who put things really concisely to me: If I created the problem, then I should solve it. If you created the problem, you should solve it. If we share blame, then we should share in the repair.

The kids don't go asking for money. They don't demand much of anything. Don't punish them for the bad behavior of others. KU belongs to this lame cooperative and Self has built a dirty program because weak Dr. Z probably couldn't walk into Self's office without trembling.

Just as the NCAA targets kids who want to transfer, they punish kids who don't do anything wrong. But Calipari? He makes millions. Dirty Bill? He makes millions. And can walk over to another campus tomorrow and make even more.

Len Shaffer 4 months ago

You're so right, Brett. All players are just innocent lambs and none of them ever ask for money. Every one of them simply wants an opportunity to get an education. That's why Silvio's case is nothing special, because he's just like every other pure-as-the-driven-snow athlete.

As usual, Brett, you're spot on with your brilliant analysis.

Suzi Marshall 4 months ago

Once in a generation ... we agree.

Barry Weiss 4 months ago

Pretty lame the way this whole thing has hammered the student.

Craig Carson 4 months ago

The fear I have about the NCAA being forced to reinstate Silvio is they might get petty and sanction KU with a post season ban just to "get even"

Mark Wooden 4 months ago

Might as well leave. Use the scholarship for someone who has no questionable eligibilty.

Brett McCabe 4 months ago

Like Josh, Cheick, Cliff, Billy and Ben?

Jesse Johnson 4 months ago

I really like knowing he will definitely come back if he's reinstated. We really need bigs with Dedric gone and Don likely gone.

Bill Kackley 4 months ago

Brett, it might be nice if you stuck to the facts. You have no proof that Bill Self did any thing wrong. Convicting without proof. Shame on you. I do agree with you on Silvio, but blame the crooked NCAA not Coach Self. He is no more responsible for what greedy parents and others do than the innocent kids.

Dirk Medema 4 months ago

Coach Beaty is gone, and Coach Miles hasn't pulled a lesticle yet, so he's got to attack someone. Sounds like you've missed him clamoring for Coach's resignation with all sorts of nonsense.

Dane Pratt 4 months ago

Can we expect a ruling by May 30? If not a ruling is worthless.

Dirk Medema 4 months ago

Matt's recent article on the subject indicates that it is at least possible to get a ruling even in a matter of weeks.

I believe his other recent article on declaring also laid out at least 1 scenario where he could return later in the summer.

I wouldn't be surprised though if they just chose to not rule on the appeal until it was too late. Sort of like Billy's case, and in some ways Clif's also.

Dane Pratt 4 months ago

I would not be surprised as well if they dragged it out until it was too late but KU has not helped matters by waiting so long to file the appeal.

According to the NCAA, Silvio's infraction warrants a permanent suspension so two years in their minds is being lenient.

Joe Baker 4 months ago

Good luck Silvio. Sorry KU didn’t do more and weren’t too effective. You got screwed several times over.

Good luck in the league. Emmert and the NCAA will not overturn the appeal. KU is their little experiment.

Andy Godwin 4 months ago

Based on past experiences with the NCAA how many people think a ruling, either way, will be made before the deadlines below? Raise your hand. Funny, of all the KU players entered, he might be the one most likely to get drafted, late in the 2nd round, based solely on his athleticism and raw potential.

He could return to KU "if he pulls his name out of the draft pool by May 29 or if he stays in the June 20 draft, goes undrafted and then severs all ties with his agent"

Andy Tweedy 4 months ago

What's the NCAAs incentive to reinstate him? We all know why they should, but I just don't see why they will. Their reputation will still suffer and everyone will just move on if they don't. Sadly, I don't see a happy ending here.

Joe Baker 4 months ago

This is rich for a pro-UK or Duke writer to justify the car as "a loan." Also, Zion must have gotten one of those pre-season college loans that you pay back after your NCAA career is done. Then you go to the league. It's the ol' Duke player 2-step...We give you a "LOAN" (wink, wink), then you go to the league. Remember what the Adidas rep said during his Grand Jury testimony to Bill Self that it's the way Duke, UNC, and Kentucky all do it...CHEAT CHEAT CHEAT.

Now the Big Mean Brother aka NCAA, or Mark Emmert says this in justifying Silvio's punishment...

The NCAA defended the punishment, saying that student-athletes are held responsible for any improper benefits received during the recruiting process whether they are aware of the violations or not, per ESPN: "Membership guidelines state the starting point for these violations is permanent ineligibility, but the NCAA staff recognized mitigation based on the specific circumstances of this case when making its decision."

Thanks to these behaviors and words, college basketball is worse than the NBA. My basketball fandom is being tested at this point. I'm really struggling to even like college basketball any longer. I used to love it, but now with all the obvious corruption and grown men cheating, I'm getting sick of it all. The NCAA is making it worse by picking and choosing who they want to punish and who they want to avoid...Duke, UNC, and UK. Now it appears Zona is off the hook too.

Love how the writer of the posted link says, "Queue the John Calipari jokes." Sad thing is, it's no joke. It's reality.

Bj Cassady 4 months ago

Maybe SDS should go to Duke where he would immediately be made available to play. Yeck

Edward Daub 4 months ago

Silvio looks like a young Morgan Freeman! De Sousa Redemption?

Bee Bee 4 months ago

The BOZ was right. National Communists Against Athletes.

Bill Lamson 4 months ago

I fully agree with the notion that the punishment was way too harsh, but to everyone criticizing the NCAA, you do realize that the NCAA is governed by university presidents! In other words it's not some independent group...it's made up of the schools that it regulates...so if you've got a complaint you should direct it to chancellor Girod, and criticize him and other school presidents for allowing the NCAA to adopt these harsh rules in the first place. I know he's been working behind the scenes to get the punishment reduced, but he has never come out with any strong statements about the case other than usually saying something to the effect of he has to wait till the investigation is complete. You never hear him specifically criticize the NCAA...because obviously if he did he'd basically be criticizing himself. Sorry for the soapbox, but I get tired of hearing people make the NCAA out to be something it's not. People need an easy target, someone to make out to be the enemy and it's easy to do that with the NCAA...but's it basically like cutting off your nose to spite your face...doesn't make much sense.

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