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Originally published January 17, 2019 at 03:06p.m., updated January 17, 2019 at 08:16p.m.

De Sousa’s attorney: ‘It’s time for the NCAA to be fair to Silvio’

Lawyer calls for KU forward's reinstatement

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) watches from the bench during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) watches from the bench during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A Kansas City-based attorney representing Kansas basketball forward Silvio De Sousa released a statement on De Sousa’s behalf Thursday afternoon and its message was simple.

“It’s time for the NCAA to be fair to Silvio and immediately reinstate his eligibility,” wrote Scott Tompsett, of Tompsett Collegiate Sports Law in Kansas City, Mo.

In a brief phone interview with the Journal-World shortly after the statement was released, Tompsett said he had represented De Sousa “through the investigation,” which has sought to determine whether De Sousa’s eligibility was compromised because of alleged involvement of his guardian, Fenny Falmagne, in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball.

Tompsett did not provide an exact time frame for how long he had represented De Sousa or indicate who hired him.

According to an NCAA spokesperson who corresponded with the Journal-World last month, KU would have needed to rule De Sousa ineligible and have submitted a reinstatement request before the NCAA could begin to review his case.

When asked last week if KU either had ruled De Sousa ineligible or submitted a reinstatement request to the NCAA, Kansas Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony said, “We cannot get into any particulars, but everyone is working together for a resolution that is best for all parties involved.”

In a statement released late Thursday evening, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said the university is working closely with NCAA staff to resolve issues concerning De Sousa's eligibility.

"While the past several months have been difficult for this young man, Silvio continues to work hard in the classroom and in practice and he has been an exemplary teammate," Long said in the release. "His patience and cooperation throughout this process have been admirable and we look forward to a resolution.”

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound power forward has been voluntarily withheld from competition by Kansas while the school and the NCAA have worked together to investigate De Sousa’s situation.

De Sousa’s guardian, Falmagne, is alleged to have taken $60,000 from Under Armour to steer De Sousa to Maryland. In addition, discussions of a $20,000 payment by an Adidas official to Falmagne, which testimony in federal court said was never made, and an alleged $2,500 payment to Falmagne to enroll De Sousa in online classes so he could attend KU early out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., have been a part of the investigation.

In agreement with De Sousa himself, who told the Journal-World and other media outlets last summer that he had nothing to worry about regarding his eligibility, Tompsett contends that De Sousa has done nothing wrong.

“Silvio has cooperated fully and completely with the investigation of his NCAA eligibility, which has now caused him to miss over half of his sophomore season,” Tompsett’s statement said. “Silvio came to the United States from Angola at the age of 15, and he did everything he was supposed to do and was asked to do to become an eligible student-athlete at the University of Kansas. Silvio followed the rules. He did nothing wrong.”

The statement continued: “If adults did something illicit or against the rules, they did it without Silvio’s knowledge or involvement. Their actions and conduct can be dealt with through the courts and/or the NCAA major infractions process.”

While student-athletes battling eligibility issues in the past have been allowed to play when it was proven that family members or guardians were the ones taking illegal payment, an NCAA rule change in 2012 closed the loophole that separated third parties from student-athletes, therein giving NCAA officials the option of levying sanctions against a student-athlete regardless of who knew what.

According to his website biography, Tompsett has more than 25 years of “experience in all areas of NCAA infractions and compliance work. He has represented institutions, athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes in over 100 major and secondary infractions cases. He appears regularly before the NCAA Committee on Infractions and Infractions Appeals Committee.”

The bio also indicates that Tompsett “has guided dozens of coaches through the NCAA infractions process, including a Hall of Fame coach and national champion, conference champions and other nationally recognized coaches, successfully defending many coaches against allegations of major violations, including unethical conduct allegations.”

KU coach Bill Self, at his regularly scheduled news conference Thursday afternoon, was asked if he had been given any update on De Sousa’s status or situation.

“I don’t have any Silvio news as of today,” Self said. “None.”

When recently addressing a media report that indicated that KU officials were prepared to rule De Sousa ineligible and request immediate reinstatement from the NCAA, Self characterized De Sousa as “crushed” by not being able to play in KU’s first 17 games — and counting — of the 2018-19 season.

No. 7 Kansas plays at West Virginia at 1 p.m. Saturday in Morgantown, W.V.

Comments

Buck Bukaty 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Question (born by my ignorance on the matter):

Is it unprecedented for a university to grant a scholarship to a non-student-athlete in order for such scholar to complete any high school level courses?

Joe Black 4 weeks, 1 day ago

The $2,500 would be a violation of rules although I would think it would be a minor one that suspending a player 6-7 games would be more than adequate penalty. The major issue is the $20,000 paid by addias as far as KU problems are concerned. The $60,000 is a Maryland issue and both could be De Sousa issues if he is found to have had knowledge.

Dirk Medema 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Buck - I think that would be unprecedented. As a non-athlete, I had a university pay for a 2nd BS while doing grad work, but I think a student would need to be at the uni before they would start paying for anything.

Joe - a couple corrections. The $20k was documented in court as not having been paid because everything blew up.

I'm not certain what documentation exists regarding the $60k. It's definitely not a UM issue, unless it could be proved that their coaches knew something. It's only a KU issue because it is a SDS issue and he's attending KU; assuming the coaches didn't know anything.

As for knowing or not, that loophole went away in response to the Cam Newton defense. It's why Clif sat at the end of his year at KU, and didn't return even though he clearly needed more development. This might be different if the guardian vs. parent is considered to be separation, but the athletes decree of knowledge is irrelevant.

Aaron Paisley 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Joe, the $20,000 payment never occurred according to Gassnola. Since he's the one Adidas guy who plead guilty to all the charges, there's little reason to doubt that. His testimony was he was working on that payment when the investigation was announced and he never made the payment. The $60,000 payment is the one of concern because if it's determined Silvio had knowledge of that payment, then his career is over.

Dirk Medema 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Post-Cam Newton, the athlete doesn't have to have knowledge of the benefit to suffer a loss of eligibility. That's why Clif sat and then left when momma apparently accepted $. It might be a bit different in SDS's case though if the $ went to a guardian, and SDS doesn't benefit from it, but I think the knot on the Newton loophole includes guardians.

Brett McCabe 4 weeks, 1 day ago

And the kids get screwed again. Want to transfer because the guy who recruited you took millions to go somewhere else? Too bad. Sit young man, sit. Someone you know took money to influence you? Sit, young man sit.

ALL of the adults? Go where you want. Make what you want. Hell, if you are the O.C. this week, you can be the O.C. next week somewhere else. No penalties, no limits, no problems. But those damned 18-year-olds who depend on adults to guide them? Screw 'em!

Dirk Medema 4 weeks, 1 day ago

The attorney obviously knows a lot more about dealing with the NCAA than I do, but I still initially chuckled at the implication that the NCAA would be fair. Just seems like one of those classic oxymorons.

Marc Frey 4 weeks, 1 day ago

I'm not not changing my statement from October....He will not play for KU.

Tony Bandle 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Silvio's situation poses an interesting question. Is it hasty to just assume his returning to the team would be an automatic positive? That would entail a third revision of the team chemistry. [ Beginning of the season with Dok, then without Dok and then with Silvio].

Believe me when I say that I think KU should be a better team with Silvio than not, but I wonder if coming in past the halfway mark will cause difficulties . I would hope, if he is re-instated, he can be rounded into a team factor by the NCAA Tourney.

Just a thought. I'd sure like to hear some other opinions.

Brian Skelly 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Agree to a point Tony, but he has been practicing with the team I believe. I'd like to think that would expedite the process.

Shannon Gustafson 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Agbaji sure has been a positive and he's more of an unknown than Silvio. He showed last year that it doesn't take him too long to get acclimated and since the team doesn't have to run the offense through him (unless he's the only big) then it doesn't change much other than give us a more talented front court

Barry Weiss 4 weeks, 1 day ago

sounds like maybe KU recently declared him ineligible in order to get the NCAA to now rule on it?

Shannon Gustafson 4 weeks, 1 day ago

The 2 articles on here (and countless others elsewhere) announcing exactly that from the last few days would indicate you are correct.

Len Shaffer 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Don't worry, I'm sure the NCAA will make a decision by 2020.

Mike Bennett 4 weeks ago

No they won't. They will wait until he turns pro and then say the matter is moot.

Robert Brock 4 weeks, 1 day ago

The Jayhawks are getting killed on the glass. De Sousa would bring some immediate help.

Titus Canby 4 weeks ago

I was thinking the same thing. The poor kid is 19 years old, can't play in the NBA, can't play in college, and has to pay for a lawyer. I agree with Mister Quote Marks above. His "guardian" should be in jail.

Jeff Coffman 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Such a slippery slope. A donor makes an alleged payment to a student at a different university that causes him to be ineligible. So we need to have GoFundMe accounts for players not at our university, which should be steep competition. So ridiculous. The same reason Zion is playing, is the same reason SDS should be playing.

Shannon Gustafson 4 weeks, 1 day ago

This is about Adidas giving him 2500 for summer classes, not a donor from Maryland. If it was about the 60k then he'd never have a case for eligibility at all.

Mike Bennett 4 weeks ago

You guys are living in a dream world if you think the NCAA is going to reinstate DeSousa. In order for that to happen, the NCAA would have to care about the student athlete. It doesn't and never has. It is only concerned with how it can generate more money from the players to pay coaches and administrators. The NCAA will sit on it until after the arguing there's a process and protocols that in place. When the season is over they will wait until DeSousa declares he's going pro either in the NBA or overseas. Then the NCAA will say the issue is moot.

Bryce Landon 4 weeks ago

Sue the NCAA! It's not fair that Zion Williamson gets to play for Duke despite having his services shopped around while Silvio has to sit because his guardian MIGHT have taken money from a booster. I'm so sick of Duke getting partial treatment from the NCAA!

Dane Pratt 4 weeks ago

Don't feel sorry for KU or any other program for that matter that is in this predicament but I do feel bad for Silvio. He is being played like a pawn while the adults screwed things up. KU, his guardian, Adidas, NCAA are all willing participants in this cluster.

David Howell 4 weeks ago

Anyone can see the preferential treatment given other big name schools like Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Michigan State, etc. I am not so sure that those schools aren't the real power behind the scenes of the NCAA ...........

Jay Scott 4 weeks ago

Just play him. It's time for this fight with the NCAA to play out on behalf of everyone.

Ron Yates 4 weeks ago

I think the NCAA has been unfair to De Sousa. The guy has done nothing wrong. It should have stepped up and allowed him to play with the team after he was held out by Self. These are important years for him and riding the bench is not the way he should be spending them. The NCAA needs to find a way to expedite cases like these. Instead, they dither while a young man's athletic career fades away.

Darrel Stice 4 weeks ago

Even if he did know about the payments, it seems to me like he's served his time. Time to let him play. Like you alluded to, his career is on the line here.

RJ King 4 weeks ago

In this case it was KU that was dithering while they investigated the situation and "voluntarily withheld" him. It seems that KU only recently must have declared him ineligible, thus starting the wheels turning with the ncaa.

Bill Corrigan 4 weeks ago

Could Silvio DeSousa ever PROVE that he was totally unaware that his guardian had accepted $2,500 from Adidas rep T.J. Gassnola to help DeSousa to pay for online classes so he could attend KU a semester early?

Stuart Corder 4 weeks ago

Well, it sounds to me that the NCAA was working with KU the whole time on how to approach the aftermath of the FBI investigation. Perhaps we were promoted to move forward by the NCAA.

I predict his first game back is @home against ISU.

Kerby Rice 4 weeks ago

Several grey areas here. If the $60K Maryland payment has any legs in this whole thing than to me then this should also compromise the eligibility of Bruno Fernando. Fernando is a 6’10 fellow Angolan playing at Maryland this year who also has Fenny Falmagne as his guardian. He is also putting up 15 and 10 and on several first round mock drafts, all while Silvio hasn’t gotten to play 1 minute this year.

Also, I don’t know as if it is the $2,500 “gift” that is the issue, I think it’s how the money was used for the online classes for Silvio. What were these classes, would Silvio be eligible without them?!? I feel it may have been better for Silvio to take a wad of cash for his own leisure than use the funds to help make him get to college. There’s a strong chance none of this is correct and completely irrelevant but it makes sense in my mind.

Lastly I think some stuff came up in the trial several months back that Silvio had signed a contract with a European organization which would likely require consulting an agent which also would compromise his eligibility.

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