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Friday, May 8, 2020

Portion of NCAA report indicates a third KU basketball player was connected to improper payments

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) looks for an outlet as he is defended by UC Irvine forward Brandon Smith (13) and center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) looks for an outlet as he is defended by UC Irvine forward Brandon Smith (13) and center Mamadou Ndiaye (34) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Until Thursday, Silvio De Sousa and Billy Preston were publicly regarded as the only Jayhawks involved in the current NCAA allegations against the University of Kansas.

But a section of the NCAA’s response, released by KU on Thursday, indicates that there may have been a third.

A heavily redacted portion of the report raises questions about whether a representative of former KU player Cheick Diallo received an improper payment from then Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola. Diallo played for KU during the 2015-2016 season.

The NCAA document redacts the name of the player and also the year of the alleged incident. But the document, perhaps inadvertently, left unredacted the last name of the individual alleged to have received the payment from an AAU team run by Gassnola.

The name was Drame. A biography on KU’s basketball website lists Tidiane Drame as Diallo’s legal guardian during the time he was at KU.

The NCAA report also noted the player in question left KU and was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans. Technically, Diallo was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was traded on draft night to the Pelicans. The report also noted that the player in question was an international player. Diallo is from Mali.

If true, the allegations are significant because they show improper payments being made as early as 2014 or 2015, which is earlier than the first suspected case, which involved Billy Preston, who was on the KU team for part of the 2017-2018 season.

It is unclear how the NCAA Eligibility Center viewed the alleged payment, which was discovered as part of a review of bank records. Diallo was ruled eligible to play for KU.

However, in light of the federal indictments against Gassnola and other former Adidas officials in 2018, the NCAA’s enforcement staff recently investigated the matter. According to the NCAA document, it conducted a January 2019 interview, presumably with Drame, although his name is redacted in that particular sentence of the document.

In the interview, he did not deny receiving a wire transfer from Gassnola’s New England Playaz team. He said he was unsure why he would have received that payment but was adamant that it was unrelated to Kansas or any of its players.

The NCAA was unable to determine the amount of the payment. The individual had attempted to redact the transaction from the bank statement provided to the NCAA. However, portions of the statement were still readable and identified the Gassnola connection.

In the recently released report, the NCAA made a finding that Gassnola paid an indeterminate amount of money to Drame in violation of at least three NCAA bylaws. If that finding is upheld, it is unclear how that may affect KU and any particular penalties levied against the university. For instance, it is unclear whether the violations would be enough to cause the NCAA to require KU to forfeit wins in the 2015-2016 season involving Diallo.

The NCAA in 2015 did suspend Diallo for five games of the season over impermissible benefits of $165 that he received from Drame. However, in announcing that suspension in 2015, the NCAA made no mention of Drame receiving an impermissible payment from Gassnola. It is unclear that the $165 payment discovered in 2015 is related to the Gassnola payment.

A spokesperson for Kansas Athletics did not respond to a request for comment about the NCAA’s allegations of a third KU player connected to impermissible payments.

Comments

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I'd like to see an article by the LJW of why KU's position of identifying the payments and benching the players shows they were in compliance. I'd like to see a little support from the local media, instead of always portraying KU as the villain.

If I recall correctly KU has consistently benched any player that had received a payment and left them there until the NCAA cleared them.

I'd like to see the opinion line of calling out the NCAA for going off of hearsay and not facts. You have whole entire opinion sections and it'd be nice for the local paper to get on the offensive for its local university.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

There are inaccuracies in the report as noted by the NCAA in this report and the LJW supports them...Biased.

There are terms like egregious and defiant that are quoted by the LJW that are not verifiable and the LJW not only supports those terms they use it to further their report. Biased. Take this even further and they put the term "egregious" conduct in their headline. No where in the report is the term "egregious" specifically tied to conduct, but LJW pairs those two together to further a position. Biased.

LJW earlier in the week stated in their headline that they were denied a freedom of information act request, but in the article buried it was noted that the university did not deny it, but did not have it at the time. Biased by LJW.

If you think the LJW is being independent they are not. Every article is negative and has clear flaws.

Why wasn't the headline. NCAA issues report with inaccuracies in attempt to demean KU. The same article could have been written with this headline and sets a completely different tone.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Once again someone falls into the trap of thinking that the local media is supposed to be fawning sycophants of the area's sports teams instead of the, you know, MEDIA. Jeff, are you unclear on the concept of a free press???

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Inaccurate reporting is not freedom of press.

Explain why the headline doesn't say NCAA issues inaccurate report?

Why did LJW issue a report with the term "Egregious" Conduct in the headline, when the report never had that combination in the report?

Why did the LJW issue an article that stated in the headline they were denied a FOIA Request when in the article is stated they were not denied the FOIA Request and instead the University responded that day, stating they did not have it.

This is not free press, but a bias press that is serving an agenda versus actually reporting.

Armen Kurdian 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Jeff is right...most 'blockbuster' media articles have headlines that are not supported or are misrepresentations of their content. I don't know that it's an intentional attempt at bias, insofar as LJW goes, but it's an effort to get clicks and views, which in and of itself is not responsible journalism.

Steve Quatrocky 3 weeks, 3 days ago

And the fact that we benched Preston just as soon as we sniffed any sign of a payment pretty much refutes the NCAA's primary charge that Self did nothing to stop Gassnola. And as I recall when questioned, Self was totally misled about a relationship between Billy's Mom and the Adidas rep. I've always felt the NCAA had it out for KU and this pretty much proves it, where are the actions against Arizona and Ayton, or Duke and Zion? Any recruit coming in today can be assured this will be going on long after they graduate, I see a long protracted court battle.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I love how the LJW weaves its way through inaccuracies of the report to give the benefit of the doubt to the NCAA.

Instead of a document stating that the NCAA has factual inaccuracies in its report, showing that the NCAA has gone through quick and deceitful investigations that don't get facts correct and lead to a poor report.

This would be a perfect example of the LJW has an opportunity to pounce on the NCAA, but instead uses it to walk over KU.

Jackson Coleman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Taking the NCAA report on it's own, there is a strange tone of indignation that's out of place in a legal argument. Words like "egregious" are overstatements that suggest hubris and an attempt to gain sympathy when the underlying argument is weak. A disputatious front to substitute for an effective argument.

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Just how are schools supposed to find out about these payments before letting a player play? Isn't this the job of the NCAA when they declare a player eligible to play? How can the NCAA come back later after additional investigation and declare a school at fault for a third party indiscretion (intentional or otherwise) when the school had no knowledge of the illicit payments?

Isn't the NCAA logically the culpable party here?

Steve Quatrocky 3 weeks, 3 days ago

ABSOLUTELY point on! They have to put a stamp of approval on them before eligible and that includes both Academics and Amateur Status. We never played anybody without that stamp, and when questions arose with Sylvio, he didnt play again until he got a new stamp of approval by the NCAA. It all just reinforces the FBI position that the schools were defrauded. The testimony the NCAA is relying on is from convicted criminals in a fraud trial, whose to say these guys didnt just really pocket the cash that was supposed to be given to Recruit X and wrote it down as a payment? Beyond a reasonable doubt in court is impossible but that doesnt mean rough waters ahead while still in the NCAA infractions process.

Jonathan Allison 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The NCAA suspended Diallo for FIVE GAMES over $165 given to him by his LEGAL GUARDIAN?

yeah right. Nobody believes this garbage. The NCAA investigated Diallo and cleared him to play. Bill Self and KU clearly have a history of not playing a player until he has been cleared by the NCAA.

Joe Ross 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The NCAA has Kansas by the #&@$. Don't you doubt it. No one seriously believes, for example, that Townsend was not asking Adidas to make an improper benefit to Zion Williamson. Not anyone with half a brain. Coach Self asked "We good" to Adidas concerning a player. What would we have been good about? The answer is unquestionably that Adidas was involved in the "recruitment" of a player, and Self was checking about it. The answer to Self speaks volumes, as well as Self's reply in turn. Kansas even self identified Adidas as a booster for the purpose of clearing a player, and then said it wasn't. eye roll It wasn't the first time Kansas identified the shoe company as a booster.

Between the Beaty situation and especially the NCAA NOA, we've got some difficult days ahead at Kansas. Feeling sour about it won't change the reality. Argue all you want about the details, but penalties are in the pipeline.

Difficult days...

Spencer Goff 3 weeks, 4 days ago

They are sir, but let me have my retort about the current administration and how I feel about all this, and let me know if you feel the same.

You are right, I absolutely am sure we are paying kids. Just like, but probably not as much as, Duke and North Carolina. Does anybody watching college athletics today really believe that big time football and basketball schools are not paying athletes? If they say they believe their school is innocent then there is no point in discussion because they either live under a rock or are so biased they cannot accept reality. The payments are not at all my issue. Actually, I view it like Robin Hood, rob from the rich to pay the poor, but I digress.

My issue is that while there IS a paper trail to connect some of those other programs, they are specifically not targeted and instead allowed to operate in good faith. For years, Mark Emmert has been accused of pandering to certain schools, NCAA rules enforcement only seems to apply to certain programs and this absolutely rings true again and again with this administration.

This is the same leadership that "couldn't find any connection to Zion getting paid at Duke" and "hey they did their own investigation. We're good!" The investigation probably only went as far as Emmert could flush it.

This is the same administration that was warned of Larry Nassar and multiple Michigan State athletes as far back as 2010 and "newp, nothing to see here, move along sir."

This is the same leadership that said North Carolina did not break any rules because their phony classes were "available to all" (which isn't true, those classes were filled with athletes first because they could enroll before the general student body), but it worked for Emmert.

This is the same administration that said it was okay that Cam Newton's family got paid by an Auburn booster and that Cam could play in the national title game because "Cam didn't know about the payments TO HIS DAD." Yet, it is different with KU, these are guardians, not parents.... But I am sure none of it ever made it to Cam, right?

Kentucky? Hello? Oklahoma football? Texas football? Alabama football? Nah, no payments going on there. Remember that time OU got in trouble for car dealerships paying kids "wages" and giving them cars, until the one wrecked it and OU got a slap on the wrist? Yeah, Emmert doesn't either.

The NCAA is a sham, and I have said for well over a decade, it needs removed. Pay the kids, don't pay Emmert. I'm out sir.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Spencer, so why are those big time college sports programs getting away with it when we (assuming we are penalized) not? KU is one of the premier names in college basketball. Shouldn't we be in that same group?

Tim Orel 3 weeks, 3 days ago

KU was just an hour away from the NCAA when they were headquartered in KC. There was a lot of speculation that whenever the NCAA wanted to go digging for dirt, it was easy and cheap for their investigators to make the one hour trip to Lawrence and back on the same day instead of a multiple day trip getting to other locations, so KU was always one of the first targeted. Whether that has any basis in fact, I saw numerous reports like that in the 70's and 80's when KU would have their national title undefended in BB or other infraction, yet OU and other "premier" programs wouldn't even be investigated.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I heard the stories too. No idea if there is any truth to them but if geography is a motivating factor for the NCAA, Indiana should be on their radar. Bloomington is about an hour drive from Indianapolis.

Spencer Goff 3 weeks, 2 days ago

This is a turf war that is above college basketball. Nike and Adidas are at war over talent to translate to shoe sales, and dirty pool is being played by justice offices on the take. It is no shock that all of these charges against Adidas came from the same office, that the Nike extortion charges against Avenatti (who is not a nice guy, but neither was Canseco and he wasn't lying about steroids in baseball) all came from the same place.

While sacrificial lamb Nike schools were indicted, Adidas got hit with their biggest schools in terms of basketball. That was not an accident. None of this is.

In a turn of interesting events, it appears the "Duke paid Zion" train had another less scuzzball person get on for a ride today in the form of a lawsuit. We shall see how Nike and Duke bury that/her. I am sure the NCAA will be unable to find "any evidence," despite a second source and one that worked for Zion himself.

Armen Kurdian 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Joe, the NCAA compelled KU to declare Gassnola a booster. LJW reported that the NCAA would not even review or even look at our appeal unless KU declared him a booster. So to do the right thing for a player, KU did what the NCAA wanted, and lo and behold upon appeal, Silvio was cleared to play. KU has done everything they were supposed to, I do not see KU being so instransigent to not admit wrongdoing if they had in fact done so. This is just overreach, and someone at the NCAA wants to make a name for his or herself. And it will ultimately fail.

Joe Ross 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Spencer:

Exactly. The. Same.

The NCAA citing “egregious behavior “? As if profiting off of kids’ name, image, and likenesses but not allowing them to until now wasn’t?

The NCAA has blood on its hands. A fox guarding the chicken house. But because Kansas can be viewed objectively as guilty of transgressing the bylaws, certainly the stance of the “egregious” NCAA all but ensures that penalties are coming.

We’re not gonna see daylight before going through a dark night. Dusk is upon us.

Spencer Goff 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Yeah man, the most corrupt entity is the one passing judgement. This whole thing is a dog and pony show.

Something I should have mentioned, and see what you think about this... the NCAA gets by with this because, in part, fans are fickle. When a school gets in trouble, their rival schools laugh and point fingers and say "haha, they got caught," but are not smart enough to consider that someday it will be them, unless they are the rare selected few. I get that Texas could care less about that argument, or Duke, but if you are a Kansas State person, an Iowa State person, a Utah person then this lack of equivalent treatment SHOULD piss their fanbase off. Because, again, they should realize at the end of it all, some athlete they have somewhere is likely getting paid under the table.

Surely they recognize that the NCAA is not even remotely a level playing field? Right?

Creg Bohrer 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Exactly Joe.. The only reason the NCAA is reversing it's course is the fact that these young men finally finally figured out they didn't need to play at Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or N.C. to be a high draft pick. The last two or three years we've seen some of the one and done players head overseas and still get a lottery draft, Mitchell is one that comes to mind. The NCAA knew it was slowly losing it's meal ticket to these kids finally saying enough is enough. I personally think it's right because if I'm a computer wiz or a super smart person that is ahead of the rest of the class and I have a opportunity to skip college and make 7 figures no one can stop me from doing so. But if I was 7ft athletic and can shoot lights out I have to be a slave for a year to enter my field? That doesn't sound fair too American to me.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I’d shut down both programs. Fire Self and associates, retain Les to rebuild us. Release all of the kids. Turn that disgusting dorm over to Housing and make it a Schol Hall.

Turn a negative into a positive. Clean house and start over. KU basketball will be a powerhouse within 3 years. KU football can’t be worse than it has for 10 years with various goofs doing their best.

Show some pride. Quit hanging on and simply let go. Cleanse.

You know....act like Jayhawks.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Come on Brett. You want to self impose the death penalty, seems a bit harsh. If you're going to go that far we should just rid ourselves of college sports permanently since they have no place in academia.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I have felt all along that we were probably guilty but I am bothered at how other programs commit acts as bad or worse than what we're accused of and walk away unscathed. A program circumventing the recruiting process to their advantage is just another day of college sports. The story should be the inequity of the NCAA enforcement system. I don't think we'll receive any sympathy from the national press nor do we deserve any but I hope they are at the very least critical of the NCAA for their lack of applying the rules in a uniform manner.

Brian Skelly 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I've felt all along the NCAA didn't like the very public push back from KU ever since the Diallo days.


The reality is the NCAA didn't have enough info and simply couldn't pin it on Diallo or KU (but maybe Addidas) at the time.

If im correct Self went standing behind a podium and essentially said to the NCAA "either declare him ineligible or let him play." They didn't have anything so he played from then on out.

I will point out an irony to me is that guys like Diallo, Preston, and DeSouza are or were talented marginal in their positive influence on the teams success.

It's hard to argue it's worth it.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Clearly Diallo, Preston and DeSouza were not worth it which begs the question, should we continue to recruit high risk low reward athletes that seem to come with an inherent risk.

Steve Quatrocky 3 weeks, 3 days ago

One step further, they were all international students with a Guardian, not a parent, looks to me the con men targeted them in the AAU ranks because a temporary guardian was more susceptible to taking the risk than a parent.

Spencer Goff 3 weeks, 2 days ago

No, I never liked it. I felt like Self was able to coach up guys that stayed for 3+ years better anyhow.

Spencer Goff 3 weeks, 2 days ago

That's funny, I just replied to you on an earlier post and referred to a similar article but on ESPN. Glad you saw it. Obviously, ESPN threw more dirt at KU than at Duke in the article. However, they cannot ignore that it now marks a second source to say Duke paid him.

If you are counting, that is officially two more outside sources that say Duke knowingly paid Zion than KU knowingly paid any of the three athletes we "egregiously," allegedly did. Unless you count the NCAA as a source, which means it would still be 2-1.... But if we count Townsend, it goes to 3-1.

They literally have more sources that Duke paid Zion and you see where the focus of the NCAA is....

My gut reaction is this Zion/Duke thing will all get washed away, Nike says so.

Dane Pratt 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Can see no possible way the NCAA punishes us without doing the same with Duke and if they did would that be the straw that broke the camels back? Would that at least start the wheels in motion to get schools to ban together and leave the NCAA. God I hope so.

Chad Smith 3 weeks, 1 day ago

I agree with Joe Ross on this one. However we might feel about the NCAA and however unfair, pandering, and ridiculous that institution is, it remains the governing body in college athletics. It has been given authority and control over college athletics.

The only way for that not to be is for several programs to simply band together and leave the NCAA and form their own coalition for athletic programs.
Not an impossible dream, but highly unlikely with how much work it would require.

So at this point, get ready for some records to no longer stand and for wins to be vacated and for scholarships to be reduced. Penalties are coming whether we want 'em or not.

KJ Quartermaine 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Jeff Coleman, so you’re sore over the fact that LJ World is reporting the facts, and that they aren’t sugar-coating it — in order to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks ago

So you did exactly what the NCAA and LJW did. You took my name, mistyped it and posted inaccurate information. I'm not mad about facts. I'm mad about reports that use adverbs, adjectives, and hyperbole to stray from the facts of the situation.

These types of things are to win popular opinion polls and not merits in a courtroom, which I foresee this going to.

Remember the facts in a courtroom and were found true by a jury is that payments were made by Adidas representative and KU was found to be an innocent victim in this endeavor. Furthermore, the fact is that when KU has found any payment whatsoever to a player, they have benched the player until the NCAA cleared the individual, this goes back to Selby even.

LJW is not using facts for their headlines.

Egregious Conduct is not in the report - Fact, but LJW uses it.

LJW was not denied a FOIA request - Fact, but LJW places it in its headline.

LJW puts a third player in the cross-hairs of the report - but the facts don't tie to any player, they surmise through errors in the NCAA report who this individual is and dismiss factual errors to point to more erroneous charges against KU.

LJW is not reporting, they are actually forming opinions that are negative to KU and writing headlines to point to the opposite of what is being stated.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks ago

By the way...LJW changed their headline that stated they were denied a FOIA request, why was that? Was that another fact?

Do you believe everything that the LJW is "reporting" now?

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