The University of Kansas agreed with the NCAA on Monday that allegations against its men's basketball program should be sent to an independent panel — but it wants the less severe allegations involving its football program to go through the NCAA's traditional process instead.
KU concurred with a recommendation from NCAA Committee on Infractions chair Carol Cartwright that the five Level I charges facing the men's basketball program should be handled by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process — a new organization outside the NCAA that's tasked with handling the most complex violations in collegiate sports.
But the university also requested that the Committee on Infractions, normally the committee that hands down punishments for rules violations, handle the football violations, which center on former coach David Beaty and current coach Les Miles using more coaches than are allowed. The university and the NCAA both agree the violations happened, and it would be simpler for the NCAA committee to handle that punishment, KU argued Monday.
It's not clear whether the cases could be split up as KU is requesting. Only two cases have entered the IARP path so far — Memphis and North Carolina State — and both are only accused of violations in their men’s basketball programs. Neither of those programs requested that any parts of their cases be split off.
KU posted its response to the NCAA's referral, as well as responses from coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, on its public affairs website Monday after a Kansas Open Records Act request from the Journal-World.
With both KU and the COI agreeing the men's basketball allegations should be referred to the IARP, it is now up to a subcommittee within that organization to decide whether to hear and rule on the case.
The five-person committee, called the Independent Resolution Panel, has no direct ties to the NCAA and also does not leave KU with the option to appeal the committee’s decision. There also is no timeline for the IRP to decide whether to hear KU's case. It also remains unclear how harsh or lenient the panel may be in doling out punishments, because neither of the cases currently in the process has been finalized.
In Self’s response, composed by a separate legal team in Kansas City, Mo., he argued that the COI has shown throughout the adjudication process that it isn’t an impartial party in the case, and the IARP is the only way KU could get a fair trial.
Self’s team also wrote in his four-page response that the COI had “wrongfully attempted to intimidate Mr. Self for his decision to defend himself against unfounded allegations of wrongdoing.”
In the university’s response, KU attempted to lay the groundwork for a legal appeal through the court system, even though the decisions of the IRP are supposed to be final. In a footnote, the response took issue with the fact that appeals are not permitted — a fact which goes against the recommendations of the Rice Commission on College Basketball, which created the process.
“KU does not waive any right to seek a review and/or appeal in any forum should a procedural error occur or should the IRP render a decision or penalty that is not supported by the record in this case,” the response reads.
The violations facing the men’s basketball program are severe. KU in September was charged with five Level I violations in a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA — the body’s equivalent of an indictment.
Self, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, faces a "head coach responsibility charge” and the university as a whole faces a lack of institutional control charge for the pay-for-play scandal, in addition to three other Level I violations.
All told, the penalties under NCAA rules could result in a postseason ban for the basketball program, show-cause penalties for Self and Townsend, and vacated wins from the 2018 season due to eligibility concerns involving forward Silvio de Sousa.
A show-cause penalty is the NCAA equivalent of a suspension, but requires any university that hires someone with the punishment to formally prove to the NCAA the charge is no longer warranted.
In its May response to KU’s defense of the allegations against the program, the NCAA issued a blistering takedown of the university’s arguments, saying the violations alleged to have taken place within the men’s basketball program are “of the kind that significantly undermine and threaten the NCAA collegiate model.”
Enforcement staff also took issue with KU not conceding that any Level I violations took place, saying the university was “indifferent” to how the alleged conduct may have adversely affected schools who recruited players in line with NCAA rules.
KU argued in a May statement the accusations against the men's basketball program are “simply baseless and littered with false representations.”
“For the NCAA enforcement staff to allege that the University should be held responsible for these payments is a distortion of the facts and a gross misapplication of NCAA Bylaws and case precedent,” a statement attributed to the university said. “In addition, the enforcement staff’s assertion that KU refuses to accept responsibility is wrong. The University absolutely would accept responsibility if it believed that violations had occurred, as we have demonstrated with other self-reported infractions.”
A timeline for when the IARP will hear KU’s case or when it may issue a final verdict remains unclear. Since it has been referred, though, it will issue a statement one way or the other once it decides whether to hear the case.
—Sports editor Matt Tait contributed to this article.