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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

KU chancellor has not considered suspending coach as NCAA investigates; Regents chairman also weighs in

Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend walks around the court during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games.

Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend walks around the court during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games.

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Although FBI wiretaps in federal court revealed University of Kansas assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend said KU would do “what it takes” to land a highly touted recruit, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said Wednesday that he has not considered suspending any KU coaches, including Townsend.

The Journal-World asked about possible suspensions after Louisiana State University suspended its head men’s basketball coach earlier this month after he was caught on tape making comments that were similar in nature to those made by Townsend. The recordings showed both coaches to be involved in discussions involving inducements to get recruits to sign at their respective schools.

Girod, who spoke to the Journal-World briefly before the Kansas Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday in Topeka, said the university was working with the NCAA as it investigated the KU program for its part in a college basketball corruption trial in October that found three men guilty of fraud. Girod said a KU investigation and possible action would not begin until the NCAA investigation had concluded.

“We're still cooperating with the NCAA on that, and they are coming back to conduct that part of the investigation, but we’re on their timeline for that, at their request,” he said.

It is not clear why LSU would be able to suspend its coach while an investigation is underway but the NCAA would ask KU not to take any such action. It also is unclear how the NCAA actually made a request of KU to hold off on an internal investigation. Girod previously has said KU was in "stand-down" mode on the matter at the request of the NCAA. However, the Journal-World in December filed a Kansas Open Records Act request seeking any records that directed KU to refrain from launching its own investigation. The university responded that neither the university nor the athletic department had any such records from the NCAA.

LSU suspended head men’s basketball coach Will Wade after the LSU chancellor said it was necessary to do so in order to "protect the integrity" of the university. LSU athletic department spokesman Michael Bonnette said the suspension came after Wade would not speak with the LSU athletic department or cooperate with the NCAA once the wiretaps were revealed. Recently, Wade was subpoenaed to testify in federal court about his involvement in the scandal, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Wiretaps obtained by the FBI reveal Wade discussing an “offer” he made to a recruit for a commitment to attend LSU. While Wade has not been charged in the case, LSU indefinitely suspended him from coaching the team, which is in the midst of one of its most successful seasons. The university said Wade would be suspended until it could confirm the program did not commit any NCAA violations, according to the report.

While Wade’s comments about offers to a recruit sound similar to Townsend’s conversations with Merl Code, an amateur basketball league director who was recently sentenced to six months in prison for a fraud conviction related to the scandal, KU has not suspended Townsend.

When discussing recruit Zion Williamson — who now attends Duke University and is widely regarded as the best player in college basketball and a likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft this summer — Townsend said, “Hey, but between me and you, you know, he asked about some stuff. You know? And I said, ‘Well, we’ll talk about that, you decide.'”

Code said, “I know what he’s asking for. He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family.”

In reply, Townsend said, “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

Whether the “opportunities” were for Williamson or a family member is not clear.

When asked if he considered suspending any KU coaches, Girod said Wednesday that he had not considered it because the NCAA wanted KU to hold off on taking action until the organization finished its investigation.

“There was discussion with the NCAA about how to approach it, but they asked us to hold off and do it with them,” Girod said. “(The NCAA) said they wanted to be part of that, and we said we would comply.”

Girod said he did not know when the investigation would conclude, noting that it kept “getting pushed back.”

“They’ve got their hands full,” Girod said. “We get it; they have a lot going on.”

But Girod said he was confident that Townsend was not expressing an openness to committing a violation to recruit Williamson in the wiretapped phone call. Girod did not elaborate on why he was confident Townsend's comments weren't an expression of willingness to commit an NCAA violation. Girod did not directly respond to a question of whether he had spoken to Townsend about his comments. Rather, Girod simply said that the university was cooperating with the NCAA.

Although Girod said he didn't have any concerns with the basketball program’s recruiting practices at the moment, he said the university “needs to do the work” to confirm that violations have not occurred.

“I have confidence in our guys,” he said. “We need to do a thorough investigation and deal with the findings.”

Dennis Mullin, chairman of the Board of Regents, said he was not worried about one of the Regents institutions being caught up in the corruption case. He said that he thought the universities’ compliance offices were working hard to protect their programs from illicit activities and that he wasn't sure how they could possibly stop activities that were happening outside of the universities' purview, referring to Adidas consultants paying players’ families.

He said he didn’t believe any KU coaches had been revealed to be part of any wrongdoing.

“If I had a coach involved, that would be a whole different story, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Mullin said.

Additionally, Mullin said he thought it was unfair that the NCAA suspended KU’s Silvio De Sousa from participating in games until the 2020-21 season just because the court proceedings revealed that his guardian, Fenny Falmagne, accepted $2,500 to send him to KU.

“Two years for something his guardian did?” Mullin said. “I don’t know how you manage it, but it does bother me that, I think, (the NCAA) overreacted in some cases.”

Comments

Buck Bukaty 5 months, 4 weeks ago

SARCASM….BAZINGA!!!

Unless and until something other than speculation and mind reading comes out my position is and will continue to be that my glass is half-full.

Dane Pratt 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm trying to come up with some plausible deniability regarding the conversation between Townsend and Code. So far I don't have any. Someone help me out here.

Kit Duncan 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Coach Townsend reportedly only said "We'll do whatever it takes" to get Williamson to come to KU. If that is truly what he said, there is no jury in the world that would find him guilty of offering a bribe. It's the same thing when cops try to trap someone assumed to be pandering. If no "monetary value" has been discussed they have nothing to arrest the perpetrator for, even though they know exactly what the person is trying to do.

Dane Pratt 5 months, 4 weeks ago

It's not a jury I'm concerned about since the NCAA doesn't deal in court trials. They have an infractions committee which is quite different than our judicial system. Does not have to meet the same burden of proof.

Mike Hart 5 months, 4 weeks ago

That is complete crap. READ THE TRANSCRIPT. Code said "He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family.”... to which Townsend DIRECTLY responded with : “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if THAT'S what it takes to get him here for 10 months, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT some way.” ... That and It.. are referring to Williamsons demands. To not admit what "it" and "that" are referring to... you have to be a complete moron or watching this unfold with the ultimate in rose-colored glasses. Stop making excuses for Townsend, because if he REALLY has nothing to hide.. then he would step forward.. and the University would step forward with a damn explanation.

Joe Black 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, everyone that disagrees with your interpretation is a "moron" because you are the smartest guy in the room (if the room was empty) There are literally hundreds of other interpretations of his response that would not mean that they were going to illegally meet his demands. I'm not saying that was the case but you sure as hell don't know exactly what he meant either.

Sae Thirtysix 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Best said a number of weeks back by Elliott Reeder:

"Hi Chancellor, thank you for your call. Oh sure, obviously what I was saying is 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, because as you know and gee whiz, we don’t do anything like providing anything that is over the line here at Kansas and I know those rules inside and out - so my reference was that we will just have to explain everthing again to the recruit and then just have to find some way to put in some extra effort to convince him to come to KU - despite his desire for things we just don't include as a part of the KU basketball program; we DO NOT condone that type of thing around here (cause as you know – we are 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 'extra effort' of convincing him into being part of this wonderful university ... I’m not sure he has even seen our upgraded building at McCarthy Hall!! Thank you again for calling, hope to see you in Salt Lake for the tournament."

Jim Stauffer 5 months, 4 weeks ago

This is not plausible deniability but journalists who seem to look for the salacious part of any story have declined to ask the question, "If Zion wanted money and housing for his family from KU and then decided to go to Duke, from whom did he get the money?" It is obvious he got the money from Duke and the FBI, NCAA and every journalist I have read seem not to think so.

Dane Pratt 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't know what the FBI and NCAA think but there are plenty of stories on Duke/Zion and NCAA violations, just not by the LJW.

Kit Duncan 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Sorry Dylan, but the allegations about Coach Wade are far more serious than the ones about Coach Townsend. According to a S.I. article, a taped conversation between Wade and an Adidas rep named Dawkins (no transcript of the conversation), Wade allegedly made an offer for the commitment of a recruited player named Javonte Smart.

https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2019/03/15/lsu-javonte-smart-cleared-play-sec-tournament-fbi-wiretap

[The Baton Rogue native was reportedly at the center of a 2017 phone call that included Wade talking about an "offer" to a player and his family. Wade only referred to the situation as "this Smart thing," during his conversation with Dawkins but suggested that a player's verbal commitment had been delayed because they weren't offered a big "enough piece of the pie in the deal."]

In addition, Coach Townsend has wisely been silent, not talking to the media. Coach Wade has not only been talking, but claims he has never had dealings with Dawkins. He could be digging himself a big hole if that turns out to be a lie.

Andy Godwin 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Why do you think the NCAA is dragging their collective feet and don’t want KU investigating, because Zion is the biggest draw in college basketball (and he never should have had to enroll in a college to further his skills) and Duke is their golden goose. If the NCAA came down on KU at this time for improper recruiting of Mr. Williams then the spotlight must shine on Duke and the all powerful coach K regarding improper benefits Mr. Williams and his family (allegedly) received to attend this higher institute of learning. It will be interesting to see if the FBI has been looking into his recruitment by non-Adidas schools. This behind close door culture needs to change, so the top recruits who could careless about college can play professionally directly out of high school. The NBA needs to step up and quit using college basketball as their minor leagues. College basketball would likely be a better game without these players because there would be greater parity and thus competition. UCLA dominated college basketball under Wooden and hid predecessors because they had the best players year in and year out. Duke has the best player, head and shoulders above the rest, and if Zion had gone to KU (or most any other schools) they would also be in the hunt for a national title. The NCAA has known of this practice and now that the FBI has exposed the dark underbelly of college recruiting for some of the top recruits, they are collectively @#$&ing their pants.

Jim Stauffer 5 months, 4 weeks ago

UCLA did NOT dominate basketball under the predecessors of Wooden. He was there 16 years or so before he won a title.

Stephen Simmons 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Ok, so if I'm trying to get something out of KU and call Townsend and say, "my guy will come to KU if you give me a 747 with Smoky and the Bandit paint job, change the name of Topeka to "Bootyliciousville", and give me 5 million quarters and a vintage Asteroids arcade game," and Coach T says, "I'll get right on that," before he slams the phone down in a fit of laughter, that's a violation?

How about this, LJW: perhaps you should check into Zion's dad's employment history over the past few years. Do a linkedin search. Who knows, if Zion's dad went from working at the local Piggy Wiggly and suddenly and coincidentally changed jobs to become the Assistant to the City Manager in charge of Special Projects at the Durham NC city hall, maybe it's a clue worth looking into.

Shannon Gustafson 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Does Dylan think there is a single person in his readership that is anti-KU and therefore wants to read crap like this? At least it could be written from a viewpoint other than "KSU/Mizzou Fanboy".

Dane Pratt 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Attack the message, not the messenger.

Micky Baker 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Joe Ross made a suggestion a couple of years ago on how to get the best recruits here, and it stands on the program's shoulders to do it. That is all good, but I wasn't fond of the one-and-done idea. If there Williamson's family received anything from Adidas in order to attend Duke, he shouldn't be playing but it's about the money. During the season, KU had a beginning of a game cut off on ESPN because the game before had not concluded, then they switched to the Duke game before the conclusion of the same KU game. Was Duke's ratings that high when Kansas was playing in Kansas? The NCAA and ESPN are playing favorites it seems. They slap De Souza with a 2-year ban over $2500, but nothing with Williams. And I have to say, if De Souza wasn't kept off the regular season roster this year, Kansas would have at least had their 15th in a row because with him I don't think they would have lost at West Virginia, at Kansas State, or at Texas. KU probably also beats Kentucky and New Mexico State with De Souza. That is with or without Doke. Without Williams, Duke loses to Williamson and probably 4 or 5 other games that Williams was the difference maker. The landscape of college basketball would look a lot different with De Souza on the roster and Williams not on Duke's roster, but not in favor of Duke.

Robert Brock 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Zion Williamson had absolutely no interest in going to the University of Kansas. All the chatter is...just chatter.

DaNeille Dani Davis 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Stephen hit the nail on the head! The FBI needs to be looking into the Williamson family. Did they get a new home or higher paying jobs this year and check the bank account!!! These are all the things the family was asking for! Surely we all aren't smarter than the FBI. Coach K must feel pretty confident that they wont find the dirt on that family.

Noel Graham 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Wade made a “strong ass offer” whereas Townsed was just trying to “work and figure out a way”. The difference is night and day.

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