KU coach Bill Self says delay in Billy Preston situation 'not the NCAA's fault'
With Kansas basketball fans becoming more disgruntled by the minute about the delay in the NCAA’s decision on the status of freshman forward Billy Preston, KU coach Bill Self has a message for anyone frustrated by the process.
“It’s not the NCAA’s fault, folks,” Self said Wednesday night on his weekly Hawk Talk radio show.
Reiterating what he has said at various times throughout the long, drawn-out process, Self once again explained that KU officials sought to be as thorough and complete as possible with their investigation into the financial details of the car Preston was driving during a non-injury, single-car accident in early November.
“The way it had to be submitted, it had to be turned in after it was completely done, with corrections, so that way the NCAA doesn’t come back and say, ‘We need more information,’” Self explained. “We tried to make it a complete file.
“When we got it (finished), it was very close to Christmas break (so) it’s been 10-12 days with not a lot being done with it. That’s not anybody’s fault at all. I know it’s frustrating. It’s more frustrating for Billy and obviously his mother than anybody else. We think we’ll have a final decision on this very soon. When that decision is made, we are optimistic and hoping for the best.”
While Self has hinted at a resolution in the Preston situation for the past couple of weeks, the KU coach took things one step further on Wednesday night, saying, “It’s a situation right now where we think we could know any minute on what his situation is. We actually feel very good about what the NCAA has in their hands what we submitted.
“There’s a lot of different things that go into it when you go through all records,” Self said. “As an institution I know we have done a nice job of being very thorough to the point we presented this after more interviews and things like that that you can imagine. If you think of it like this, if you are looking into something and someone tells you one name, you’ve got to go talk to that one name. If somebody tells you two names, that’s two more names you’ve got to go talk to. It takes a little bit longer to do a thorough job to present to the NCAA where they could make their final determination. I know we as an institution believe we have been very cautious and very thorough and basically a young man has been hurt a pretty fair amount by something that he is totally oblivious to.”
Self added that he thought KU’s decision to hold Preston out for the past 14 games as a precaution should be viewed as punishment enough.
“If there is a problem, which we are not saying there is, but if there is one, he has already sat how many games now? Fourteen games? Gosh dang,” Self said. “We certainly hope and believe that would be sufficient if there is (a problem). We are not even admitting there is one. That’s where we are at right now.
“I’m trying to be patient. Certainly the NCAA knows obviously there is a lot at stake, but what is at stake, more than anything else, is a young man’s well being. I’m certainly hopeful that we’re going to have him real soon.”
During his Thursday press conference inside Allen Fieldhouse, Self was asked whether he expected to hear about Preston’s status before Saturday night’s game at TCU. KU’s coach said he hoped to have “some semblance or some idea” of where the process stood before the Jayhawks play in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Certainly I've said for a while now sooner rather than later. I can guarantee you it will be sooner rather than later,” Self said, “but I don't know what the outcome will be on it, honestly.”
If Preston does get cleared to play, Self thinks the 6-foot-10 former McDonald’s All-American will be “pretty ready” to step in and contribute.
“I think we're talking about basically two months since he's played. Has he practiced? Yes. But he's also been on the scout team a lot. If he practiced for an hour and a half, it's hard to give a guy you know is not going to play in the foreseeable future enough reps to really take it away from somebody else that does have to play,” Self said, adding it will take Preston some time, perhaps a week, to get comfortable.
“You shouldn't expect too much right out of the chute, but he's a talented kid, though,” KU’s coach said.
— KUsports.com's Benton Smith contributed to this update.