Thursday, June 18, 2020

Kansas coach Self threatens legal action against NCAA regarding handling of infractions case

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into a game official for a foul called against The Jayhawks during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into a game official for a foul called against The Jayhawks during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas coach Bill Self’s personal attorney has informed the NCAA, college sports’ governing body, that the Hall of Fame coach is considering legal action against the NCAA for its handling of the violations case involving Self and the Kansas men’s basketball program.

Scott Tompsett, Self’s attorney, said in a June 12 letter to the NCAA’s general counsel that Self was considering legal action for negligence, breach of contract, defamation and fraud, among other claims. As such, Tompsett requested the NCAA preserve evidence related to the investigation, as well as decades worth of NCAA policy precedent and materials related to KU’s case.

The existence of the letter was first reported by ESPN Thursday, but the Journal-World obtained a copy independently.

In addition to communications about the investigation into KU and Self, Tompsett’s letter requests the NCAA preserve evidence from the 2018 fraud trial in the Southern District of New York that made public the Adidas pay-for-play scandal.

The letter also requests the NCAA preserve an abundance of evidence dating back to 1990 for several categories, including communications relating to corporate entities and their relationship to athletic programs, NCAA oversight of apparel and shoe companies, and information communicated to the NCAA about shoe companies’ “perceived or actual influence on prospective student-athletes and prospective student-athletes’ choice of an NCAA member institution.”

In September 2019, the men’s basketball program was charged with five Level I NCAA rules violations delivered in a Notice of Allegations — the NCAA’s version of an indictment — including a lack of institutional control.

Self personally was handed a coach responsibility charge, and the penalties associated with the alleged violations carry potential show-cause — essentially a suspension — penalties for Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, a postseason ban, loss of recruiting scholarships, and vacated wins.

KU, Self and Townsend have vigorously disputed the charges facing the program since the process began; however, Self’s threat of legal action seems to clearly demonstrate KU won’t quietly accept any punishment that results in the aforementioned penalties.

“To put it bluntly, the NCAA enforcement staff is attempting to end Mr. Self’s long and very successful coaching career for conduct which all coaches engage in and which the NCAA has known for many years is commonplace and permissible,” Tompsett wrote.

As support for that claim, Tompsett included in the June 12 letter a quote from Mike Brey, the recent National Association of Basketball Coaches president and the head men's basketball coach at Notre Dame.

"It kind of shocked me," Brey said in part during a recent interview with The Athletic's Seth Davis. "I never thought of it like that. If there's money changing hands, then yeah, they're a booster, but I don't think any of us look at the support we get from sneaker companies and think of that as violations. They're giving us information to help close the deal (with recruits). ... Every one of us works the shoe company angle to help us get players. I speak to those guys as much as I would speak to parents."

The allegations from the NCAA state that Self and Townsend showed a lack of control in allowing representatives from Adidas, KU’s apparel company, to have “unrestricted access” to players and families of potential KU recruits.

The alleged failure to monitor the representatives’ activities is what resulted in the guardians of former Kansas players Billy Preston and Cheick Diallo, as well as current player Silvio de Sousa, to receive illicit payments during their recruiting processes, the NCAA says.

The NCAA also argued that Adidas representatives were acting as boosters for KU, and as such had to be monitored by coaches at all relevant times to ensure compliance with NCAA rules.

As the Journal-World has previously reported, KU’s athletic department has routinely sent out compliance letters to area businesses reminding them of what constitutes a booster of the university. That letter makes it clear that companies like Adidas can be considered boosters.

The letter states: “A booster is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g. apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization that is known to …”

KU in its response to NCAA allegations in March, however, said that the NCAA was relying on a "never before alleged theory" that employees of corporate partners are boosters to college athletic programs. Seemingly the case against KU hinges on whether then-employees of Adidas are considered boosters.

T.J. Gassnola, the central figure in the Adidas pay-for-play scandal, testified in a 2018 federal trial that he and others intentionally concealed the payments from Self and Kansas.

In the letter, Tompsett wrote that allegations directed at Self “are contrary to longstanding NCAA precedent and the common practice that individuals who work in grassroots basketball openly share information with both college coaches and (potential student athletes).”

KU’s violations case has been referred to a new Independent Accountability Resolution Process that is separate from the NCAA. The five-person committee within that process has not yet publicly said whether it will hear the case.

If it won’t, the case will be heard through the typical route of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which recently has ratcheted up the penalties it levies at schools found to have violated NCAA rules.

– Sports editor Matt Tait contributed to this article.


Bryce Landon 1 year, 1 month ago

What's there to consider? Self should definitely sue the NCAA! So should the University of Kansas! You would think Self was Jerry Tarkanian the way the NCAA has attacked him!

Bryce Landon 1 year, 1 month ago

Also, what's up with all the ads I have to scroll through to get to the comment section? I turned on my ad-blocker to prevent that from happening. Come on, LJW!

Brian Wilson 1 year, 1 month ago

Agree about the ads. I'm sorry but if you want ads on your page then put it on the page to the side of the article just like a real newspaper or magazine. And don't make it so ads conitnuously scroll at the bottom. I have no problem reading you newspaper with advertisements on the page. But this c*** of popups and banners the cover what you are trying to read or conituously scroll at the bottom is bogus! I will remove from my favorites any site that continues to impose upon me that I have to turn off my ad blocker. And yes, I will stop reading the LJW. As far as I am concerned companies can just go out of business if they insist on being a PIA!. If you want to advertise to me, it's on my terms. Put it on the page! Ban pop-ups!

BTW, I'm not sure I like the defense of "everybody has been doing it and the NCAA knows it" argument. But Yes, Sue the NCAA. The NCAA has been guilty of abuse of power and authority for a long long time.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm guessing the ad thing is less intentional and more a case of sloppy web page management, and it's not the first time. Or they might really, really need the revenue.

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 1 month ago

Also agree about the ads. They are raunchy and of the worst click-bait type. I understand ads pay for stuff, but they are the worst type of ads on the internet. I would consider 'white listing' this page, and allowing ads to show if they were not this type of ads.

Matt Tait 1 year, 1 month ago

Hey guys - Thanks for the heads up on the ads and scrolling. This is the second time that we've had that happen and we're addressing it. The company that populates those ads is not supposed to enable the infinite scroll and we've asked them to reset it to the normal function. Should be fixed soon. Sorry for any inconvenience and thanks for hanging in there with us. Hope everyone's doing well. - Matt

Dane Pratt 1 year, 1 month ago

Don’t think threatening to sue the NCAA is a wise strategy before your case has been heard. In the court of public opinion we would receive yet another black eye. I would rather see KU lead the efforts for basketball and football to leave the NCAA and each form their own governing bodies. For that, there is plenty of public support. If you want to sue someone, how about Adidas. Gassnola was an Adidas consultant who was found guilty in criminal court. Seems like this would be a slam dunk in civil court.

Michael Maris 1 year, 1 month ago

I wonder if Kansas Basketball forfeited their rights to potentially filing litigation action against Adidas (once they signed the new apparel contract)?

Benjamin Shear 1 year, 1 month ago

He's not suing yet. It's like a warning. And in his mind, the NCAA has already smeared his name. What's he got to lose?

I think lots of schools would love to be out of the NCAA mafia. However, no one, and I mean no one, wants to be the first to leave. We also have no leverage with our football program. No one wants to say, "I'm leaving the NCAA! Who's with me?" and then hear "...."

Dane Pratt 1 year, 1 month ago

You're probably right Michael. But it would seem easier to go after Nike/Adidas/UA than the 40 or 50 schools implicated in this.

Bill Pitcher 1 year, 1 month ago

Absolutely about time. This issue can't be litigated now in the school's NCAA case. And it's the only way to act on Brey's story, which, if it has any truth to it, should be laid out for all.

Stuart Corder 1 year, 1 month ago

This is going to get a whole lot more interesting, folks.

Get your popcorn ready.

David Kelley-Wood 1 year, 1 month ago

I very much favor this step. What the NCAA has done amounts to a smear campaign against Coach Self (and Coach Townsend) and KU. The NCAA is "considering" finding its targets guilty. The accusations alone have surely already done damage in the court of public opinion. So, this announcement of "considering" going into legal combat allows our side to effectively state a case before the public as well, and it's a whole lot cheaper than formal legal action. Kudos, Coach.

Creg Bohrer 1 year, 1 month ago

Agreed. Now that Zion has been basically caught they have to find a fall guy to save Duke. I'm glad Self is fighting this and I hope it blows up in the NCAA's face.

Jerry Walker 1 year, 1 month ago

Great job by Self and KU.

By forcing the NCAA to reveal all kinds of documents and case actions from the past...guess what? It's going to discover all kinds of graft and payola from NCAA stafffers. With thousands of dollars floating around you can bet that some low paid, disgruntled NCAA staffers have decided to dip into that honey pot for themselves and let that determine the outcome of investigations.

The stinking rot of the NCAA is going to be monumental.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 1 month ago

Anyone remember and school fighting back this hard against the NCAA? We've seen District Attorneys out of control in the past, prosecutors that get a burr up their butt and push too hard, even prosecutorial misconduct. I think something similar is happening here.

If the NCAA loses this battle, which I think they will, it's going to badly damage them, potentially affecting any legitimate cases they may bring in the future.

Keith Gellar 1 year, 1 month ago

This is NOT GOOD! When Self starts playing defense, its always bad. This is akin to him playing Zone against a can't miss 3 point shooting team. Not going to end well.

Stuart Corder 1 year, 1 month ago

Here’s a tip for anybody wanting information about where this going...

Look at the timeline of events:

  • Adidas/Under Armor/etc. make massive gains domestically against Nike

  • TPP legislation to empower China manufacturing (including apparel companies, of which Nike DOMINATES overseas production)

  • Nike CEO & Obama meet

  • FBI launches “probe into collegiate basketball”

  • NCAA targets Gassnola (Addidas) & Gatto, as well as assistant coaches who took bribes from a felon money launderer turned informant to sway athletes away from school sponsor (Oklahoma State & TCU)

  • Simultaneously, media & Nike darling Zion Williamson gets caught red handed but a Florida court says he doesn’t have to testify b/c North Carolina is going to claim his first agent wasn’t registered w/ the state. Duke/Zion & Nike get off.

That is why Bill Self’s attorney has told the NCAA to preserve and provide all documents and correspondence related to the NCAA/FBI investigation; a decade record of NCAA rulings; and is accusing the NCAA of contract tampering (between KU & Adidas).

Bill Self’s personal lawsuit opens the door to a whole world the NCAA does not want revealed - it’s internal communications.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

This is good. I love how they want all case information for decades. This is a good strategic maneuver, because the NCAA now can't destroy any of that documentation and they are now wondering how all of that history accumulates and points to what they have done in this case. All Bill Self needs is inconsistencies with how they approach certain cases and Bill Self wins and wins big.

The NCAA has gone off of fragments of information, hearsay, and forget facts that are important. KU found when payments were received by players the information was given to the NCAA and the NCAA issued punishments for those individuals. I think it is interesting that the university that actually had students that were paid and were benched for those payments, they are going after that university and coach; whereas, the universities that had clear perception that there were payments (Williamson, Anthony Davis), because the NCAA didn't find it there was no punishment.

NCAA is failing fast, and I'm not totally against the NCAA, I just find that when you make poor mistakes like this, it is going to come back, when you use adjectives and adverbs as your case instead of facts.

Keith Gellar 1 year, 1 month ago

"I just find that when you make poor mistakes like this, it is going to come back" - isn't this the exact reason why we are in the mess? because KU/Self made poor mistakes and its coming back to bit them in the a$$

i don't have any sympathy for KU/Self, other blueboods or NCAA.All are corrupt, all about the money, and have been hurting the game.

Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 1 month ago

Ads? What ads? I'm using open-source Mozilla Firefox browser with AdBlocker plus on my old Macbook pro and I see no ads. I also use DuckDuckGo for searching. Might help you all with the advertising issues.

Stuart Corder 1 year, 1 month ago

I stand with Bill Self and the University of Kansas.

The NCAA tried to “follow the money” against KU, only to find that “institutional control” prevented athletes from playing until they were either approved by the NCAA or decided to transfer away (which might explain the high rate of transfers under HCBS).

Rather than throw these kids under the bus, HCBS/KU discreetly helped these kids save face and either get approved to play or have them find other opportunities. KU did not disregard NCAA policy, nor did KU attempt to mislead or swindle the NCAA. KU followed the rules, despite how unjust they may have been (Silvio De Sousa).

The Kansas basketball program handles itself with class and confidence - which triggers haters whom see the program as either a blight on academia in general, or envious fans of rival programs whom perceive class and confidence as “self righteous.”

Chad Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

It's easy for me, the NCAA is fraudulent and while Bill Self may not be perfect, he will shed light on all the NCAA imperfections. I'm excited for this honestly. Hopeful it instigates change. KU will be ok.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

Did Brett McCabe get banned from this site? I can't believe he hasn't weighed in by now regarding his favorite coach?? :)

Mo Meza 1 year, 1 month ago

I support Coach Bill Self as well as his coaching staff, the KU basketball program, the Athletic Department and The University of Kansas. Personnally, I don't trust the NCAA, as a matter of fact, I don't feel they are credible based on how they have been handling the tournaments, student athletes issues, approving student athletes to play. I don't see their transparency and they seen to be very arrogant. I wonder if the power 5 institutions could push for a clean up of the NCAA, if not create their own organization to serve like the NCAA, but more efficient and transparent.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 1 month ago

Can we all agree that in America a person has a right to demand their day in court if someone accuses them falsely. The NCAA's action is as misguided as the police use of excessive violence. There are reasonable ways to proceed and the NCAA is not taking advantage of them. For example, the NCAA could audit a university's athletic program and then put them on notice with what they have to do going forward. If they continue to violetate then the penalty is severe. In the case of Coach Self, finally someone has said that false accusations based on inuuendo will not stand, and he is refusing to solve the NcAA's enforcement problems by personally taking a bullet. It is true that the relationship of the NCAA and its members with shoe companies is out of control, but that is not solved by attacking 4 universities, or Coach Self.


Dane Pratt 1 year, 1 month ago

Seems like Bill is putting the cart before the horse. If he wants to sue, shouldn't he wait until after a verdict has been rendered. An independent council is probably going to hear our case. Let's see what they say.

Brian Skelly 1 year, 1 month ago

 Im glad he's doing it,  but I have no idea what will come of it.    More than anything, he sees his livelihood threatened for something he believes doesn't warrant it.    So he's going to fight that.    It's already harmed him and KU.

 What's most frustrating is Duke and Zion are given a pass, but UA, Addidas, Reebok aren't.   Nike is supposedly clean as a whistle.    By the standards the NCAA is arguing,  shouldn't the University of Oregon be given the death penalty?    The whole athletic program is functionally owned by Nike.

 I think most of this is KU simply isnt going to put up with it,  the NCAA is pissed about it,  and they are going after them.    Using the FBI stuff is good and smart -- it's shown something very different than the NCAA is selling.

 Throw in the fact that my guess is in 3-5 years some form of compensation for athletes is going to be green lighted.   Have no idea what it's going to be,  but it's going to be something for sure.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

Great move Coach. Its time to call out the NCAA on the way they have handled this matter which is standard in the game today. If you don't like it, you call everyone together and change the rules to be more explicit to how you want it. You don't just go out and hang someone.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 1 month ago

Would be nice to see some other coaches in favor of this. Outside of Lawrence, I am finding little support for Bill.

Stuart Corder 1 year, 1 month ago

Dane Pratt, I think this adds leverage to the “independent review”.

The NCAA declares that the review panel decision can not be appealed. The notification of intent to sue provides notice to the NCAA that both KU and HCBS intend to make sure whatever ruling can, in fact, be appealed in some form or fashion.

As to the perceived lack of support for HCBS outside of KU, put yourself in the shoes of the face of an athletic program that currently isn’t involved in any NCAA probe. You’ve now seen an “FBI sting”, widespread NCAA probes shaking down other programs, and players under microscopes. Very few athletic programs have the community and financial support to endure a defiant stance should the NCAA decide to come audit or levy an allegation because a player is a big into style/image.

Also, I think the support is definitely there....

Dane Pratt 1 year, 1 month ago

That’s a great article Stuart. Thanks for the link.

No one wants to stick their neck in the noose so it’s easy to see why Bill has received little or no support from his contemporaries. Regarding the threat of a lawsuit, depending on the fight or flight response of the NCAA has potential impact but the IARP is independent of the NCAA and the threat of a lawsuit would be of little no significance to them. If the IARP does in fact hear our case, there seems to be no point of a threat against an entity that A) has not rendered a verdict and B) is not culpable for said verdict. Seems more like posturing on Bill’s part, but in the court of public opinion it doesn’t seem to be having an effect.

Stuart Corder 1 year, 1 month ago

I think there are issues with the IARP, which KU notes when the case was referred over to this newly created enterprise.

“The Complex Case Unit includes both external investigators and advocates with no school or conference affiliations as well as one member of the enforcement staff.”

Advocates for KU, or advocates for the Infractions Referral Committee?

The NCAA enforcement is there, but KU is not provided representation?

“The Independent Resolution Panel reviews the allegations issued by the Complex Case Unit and the school’s response to those allegations. It then conducts a hearing, decides whether violations occurred and prescribes penalties.”

This is the NCAA setting up its own court, outside the legal system which has the power to levy penalties directly impacting university revenues.

“Decisions issued by the Independent Resolution Panel are final and are not subject to appeal or further review.“

This is the crux of the issue.

KU and HCBS were given two options:

1) Accept the current NCAA process.


2) Offer a written response, and then roll the dice w/ an NCAA infractions investigator & non-affiliated schools.

As my understanding, the IARP is not an actual court - but people with “legal backgrounds” whom “generate” a panel.

We’ve heard/read the NCAA’s spin on this. Here’s mine.

Call me crazy, but it seems to me that KU’s program and HCBS’ legacy has been held hostage by corporate profiteering that has led to our Jayhawks being offered as a sacrifice on the altar of the NCAA as nothing but an attempt to retain its power and influence - the money and licensing. This lawsuit begins the process of calling the NCAA out.

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