How much, if anything, can be learned about KU's case from the NCAA penalties handed down to Oklahoma State on Friday
The first official punishment for a program tied up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting was handed out on Friday, but it’s still too early to know if anything can be learned about KU’s case from the news.
Oklahoma State University’s men’s basketball program received a one-year postseason ban for the 2020-21 season and a series of other punishments for former OSU associate head coach Lamont Evans’ involvement in the scandal.
According to the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, Evans violated the ethical conduct rules when he accepted between $18,000 and $22,000 in bribes from two financial advisors who were interested Evans’ influence on student-athletes.
“The conduct at issue in this case was related to a broader scheme that involved money and influence at the intersection of college and professional basketball,” the committee said in its decision.
The committee classified the case as Level I-standard for the school and Level I-aggravated for Evans.
While OSU’s case was heard by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, KU’s case, at least initially, has been referred to the newly formed Independent Accountability Resolutions Process track. A source told the Journal-World last month that the COI referred the Kansas case to the IARP.
Unlike the Committee on Infractions, the IARP, which was created to tackle the most complex cases in college athletics, has no direct ties to the NCAA and also no appeals process. All rulings made by the IARP are final.
To date, only Memphis and North Carolina State have been accepted into the IARP path. However, neither case has reached its conclusion so the college athletics world has yet to see what the IARP process looks like from start to finish or what penalties, if any, come from it.
In early April, when expressing the school’s acceptance of the IARP path, reports indicate that NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson questioned whether the school “can receive an objective or fair hearing” from the Committee on Infractions, calling the IARP “the only remaining option.”
Just because KU’s case was referred to the IARP does not mean it will be heard there. A subcommittee within the IARP framework still has to formally accept KU’s case.
An NCAA spokesperson told the Journal-World last month that the NCAA would announce when a case is accepted by the IARP. There is no timeline for how long the IARP’s five-member Infractions Referral Committee has to decide whether to accept a case. And no announcement regarding the acceptance of KU’s case has been made.
The specifics of KU’s case differ from Oklahoma State’s, which also makes it difficult to know how much information can be gleaned from Friday’s ruling. While OSU's conduct involved an assistant coach taking money — and later being arrested and sentenced to three months in prison for it — the allegations against KU have to do with family members of former players taking money and, in turn, what role KU's apparel partner, Adidas, played in the process.
In addition, the NCAA allegations against Kansas go right to the top, with both a lack of institutional control violation and a head coach responsibility charge against KU coach Bill Self.
Even if KU's case winds up on the traditional infractions path instead of on the IARP track, Larry Parkinson, the COI chief hearing officer, told ESPN.com on Friday not to read too much into this one decision.
"Each case is unique," Parkinson said. "The panel bases its conclusions on the record before it, and as other cases come before either this panel or others panels we'll decide those cases based on the facts and circumstances of those individual cases. Having had only one and this being the first, I think time will tell whether other cases are similar or dissimilar."
The rest of Oklahoma State’s punishment included several penalties tied to recruiting as well as a 10-year show-cause order for Evans. That essentially means that any university that employs Evans during that time must restrict him from any athletic duties unless it can formally show cause for why the restrictions should not apply.
“Coaches are entrusted to look after the well-being and best interests of their student-athletes, including during the critical time when student-athletes are making decisions regarding their professional careers,” the committee said in its decision. “As the associate head coach admitted in his sentencing hearing, he abused this trust for his own personal gain. He sold access to student-athletes and used his position as a coach and mentor to steer them toward a career decision — retaining the financial advisors’ services — that would financially benefit him. In short, he put his interests ahead of theirs.”
Here’s the rest of the OSU punishment:
• Three years of probation.
• A total reduction of three men’s basketball scholarships from the 2020-21 through 2022-23 academic years.
OSU also self-imposed the following penalties, some of which came with additional requirements from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions:
• A $10,000 fine plus 1% of the men’s basketball budget.
• A reduction of men’s basketball official visits to 25 and then 18 during a two-year rolling period through 2021.
• A prohibition of men’s basketball unofficial visits for two weeks during the fall of 2020 and two weeks during the fall of 2021. The COI ruled that OSU also must prohibit unofficial visits for three additional weeks during the fall of 2020, 2021 and/or 2022.
• A prohibition of men’s basketball telephone recruiting for a one-week period during the 2020-21 academic year. The COI also ruled that OSU must prohibit telephone recruiting for six additional weeks during the probation period.
• A reduction in the number of men’s basketball recruiting person days by 12 during the 2019-20 academic year. The COI ruled that OSU also must reduce the number of recruiting person days by five during the 2020-21 academic year.
Shortly after the NCAA ruling was released, OSU's athletic department released a statement saying it was "stunned" by the severity of the penalties and that the school did not agree with them.