Thursday, September 28, 2017

KU coach Bill Self: ‘It’s been a dark week’

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with media members shortly after the Jayhawks' arrival at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with media members shortly after the Jayhawks' arrival at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.


Kansas City, Mo. — In Kansas City to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Coaches vs. Cancer, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self took time to address what he referred to as “a tough week for college basketball,” before the event began.

With an ongoing FBI investigation leading directly to firings and clouding the entire sport, Self explained that the biggest concern he had was not necessarily with what had happened or was happening but, instead, how it could be fixed.

“From what we’ve all seen and read, it’s sad,” Self told reporters. “And the biggest thing to me is how do you fix it? I guarantee you whatever ideas people have there’s a counter to that where that won’t work.”

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For the next seven or eight minutes, Self offered up his thoughts and ideas and addressed all of the scrutiny surrounding coaches in his sport.

The one thing that was clear from all of his words was that the KU coach set to begin his 15th season in charge of the Jayhawks recognized the severity of the problem and was concerned that there might not be an easy fix.

“One thing that I do think would help a lot is I think kids should be able to go (to the NBA) out of high school,” he said. “And if kids go out of high school the most highly recruited guys won’t be in college where you’ll be dealing with certain things like this.”

To that end, Self said a lot of the “third parties” involved in the underground world of recruiting, and not necessarily the big shoe companies, were creating as many problems as they were solutions.

“Now there’s more situations where there are more third parties that aren’t connected to the family,” he explained. “And that’s not always all bad, but there are so many instances where it is bad.”

One area Self was not worried about was his own backyard, with his own assistant coaches, all of whom have spent considerable time on Self’s staff.

“I totally trust my assistants 100 percent,” he said. “We’ve been together. I think Norm (Roberts) and I have been together 18 years. Kurtis (Townsend) and I have been together 13 going on 14 years, and Jerrance (Howard) played for me (at Illinois) so, technically, we’ve been together eight years or whatever.”

Whether it’s pressure from the families, donors, outside sources or agents and executives, it seems as if somebody from just about every walk of life has played a role in bringing college basketball to this point. But Self said even a complete overhaul of all parties involved would not necessarily eliminate the problem.

“You can say that if everybody was squeaky clean then we wouldn’t have these problems,” he said. “No, no, no. That’s not true at all. There’d still be pressure to sign guys, there’d still be coaches losing jobs, there’d still be assistant coaches not able to move on to get better-paying positions. There’s a lot of things going on that is dictated by how well you recruit.”

Even with chaos swarming the sport, Self spent a good chunk of the week out on the road recruiting, be it close to home or in another state in pursuit of some of the top players in the country. And his attention was placed equally on the future of his program and the current condition of the game he loves.

“It’s been a dark week, there’s no question, but I’m not sure that it (won’t) trigger things that will make this better,” said Self when asked if he thought this week was the start of some kind of reform, regardless of what the solution turns out to be. “It’s not gonna be in the immediate future, but there’s been some things that have obviously transpired that will create talks that allow our sport to become better in the future. I just hope the future’s soon as opposed to down the line.

“It’s sad. It’s been a dark week. And I hope it doesn’t, but all indications are it could get darker before it gets brighter. But I hope that’s not the case.”

Early Thursday evening, the Associated Press reported that KU was "conducting an internal review of its storied program."

Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said that characterization was inaccurate and confirmed to the Journal-World that the school was "discussing the issue internally."

Some web sites went as far as to claim that KU had launched an investigation, but Marchiony said KU had not taken any such steps and was merely monitoring the situation and discussing the news as it developed.


Bryce Landon 5 years, 2 months ago

“It’s sad. It’s been a dark week. And I hope it doesn’t, but all indications are it could get darker before it gets brighter. But I hope that’s not the case.”

So do we, Coach. We hope that our KU Jayhawks aren't in any way involved in any of this. And as long as the FBI doesn't contact you, we have no reason to believe that KU will be sullied like these other programs.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

The best way to fix a lot of this is for the FBI to conduct operations like this more frequently. Disbarment, sure bstantial cash penalties and prison time should help support some to respect the law a bit more.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Where money is so will the problems be ....... and where a whistle blower might be.

Don't look for this type of activity to end anytime soon.

I do feel that any player that signs on to play college basketball should academically able to attend all classes to graduate and stay for at least 4 years. No preferential treatment.

Dark money is everywhere not only in politics.

Mallory Briggans 5 years, 2 months ago

Interesting story reported by a Kentucky newspaper that Adidas is the shoe company steering Zion Williamson towards Kansas , Zions family has denied any such story Is Kentucky planting that seed to get Williamson to commit to the Wildcats .If he commits to Kansas then the seed of doubt has been planted by Kentucky that Adidas influenced his decision.

Tim Orel 5 years, 2 months ago

Not necessarily that Kentucky wants to wind up with him - it could be just to keep KU from adding him to an impressive class. Sometimes it's enough to just deny the prize to your competition.

Jim Stauffer 5 years, 2 months ago

Mallory, I don't understand all the inner workings of this thing. But I read where the four coaches indicted coach for Nike or UA schools. Does that mean Adidas is working across all lines and bribing all coaches, Adidas, Nike and UA? If so, it would seem being at an Adidas is no more an indication than being at a Nike or UA school.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 2 months ago

Translated: I am not directly involved and I am sure my assistants are not. That is about as far as I can go with any assurance. Do we know and see this stuff go on? We see it all the time. Some of these family friends, advisers, godfathers, and other third parties, we see and deal with are involved in the "dark stuff" (that would be dark green stuff), are people we interact with in the recruiting process. We know "financial advisers" who are connected to shoe companies and investment companies come in and sit down with poor kids and their families either right before we get there or after we leave.

I am sure "up front" money, finders fees, influence money, "bag men" along with phrases and labels we don't yet know will be heard in the future. This story is HUGE and college basketball won't ever be the same. Coaches...time to lawyer up. Only this time, instead of a tax attorney you need a criminal one.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

"Only this time, instead of a tax attorney you need a criminal one. "

Exactly. They changed the language so NCAA violations are also in some cases criminal activities.

Instead of "paying" an athlete to attend a certain University, it is now "bribing" an athlete.

I wonder if a top recruit asked for payment, would it be considered peddling influence?

John Fitzgerald 5 years, 2 months ago

The biggest mistake the NBA made was no longer allowing players to go to the NBA right out of highschool. It seems ludicrous to let an 18 year old make millions of dollars a year and not even go to college, but it's better then damaging the sport of college basketball. And who's to say KU assistant coaches wouldn't' dabble in this scheme to get recruits? Self says he trusts his assistants but I bet all the other coaches whose assistants were caught would say the same thing. Not saying they would or are, but the point is we don't know, and if it was happening there's a chance Self wouldn't know either. The good news about all of this though is KU is a highly respected program, so every bit of recruiting we do is scrutinized to the highest regard. Just like UNC, Duke, Kentucky and so on. Either way, what worries me most about all this is Self was already talking about retiring soon, and these issues won't help the cause to keep him around longer.

Gunnar Hays 5 years, 2 months ago

Your last point is really good. I seriously doubt KU has been breaking the rules, or if they have been not to the extent of the Louisville allegations. I've never considered Self retiring in the near future, but I've often speculated about him moving to the NBA. Every time I suggest this most of my friends who are big KU basketball fans say he wouldn't leave because he would be paid just as well and treated better at KU than any pro organization. But when we hear about things like this I can't imagine it increases the desire to stick around and coach in college.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 2 months ago

It wouldn't be about the pay. It would be about the opportunity to coach the best athletes in the word at the highest level. Also, he'd only have to worry about basketball. No recruiting and silly NCAA rules/violations.

I won't be shocked if he gives the NBA a shot in a few years. But I don't think it's something he's actively planning on doing. All my own speculation, of course.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 2 months ago

Bill Self is always calculated in how he expresses himself to the media. He doesn't say things that will come back to bite him. That makes me think that he has no involvement in this matter. He was, however, a little more careful in discussing his assistants. I'm guessing that's only because he can't be 100% sure they're not receiving bribes. But it looks like HCBS is clear of any involvement. I'll take him at his word.

Man, I hope this all blows over and KU is free from any implication.

Robert Brock 5 years, 2 months ago

I hope that some "agents" - and their "runners" - wind up spending time in prison.

Brian Green 5 years, 2 months ago

I can't help but wonder if our recent approach to recruiting transfers is somehow linked to frustrations over this underbelly in recruiting. Is it possible that bringing in transfers mitigates the likelihood of having to deal with these 3rd party pariahs?

Jason Roberts 5 years, 2 months ago

Couldn't agree with you more, Brian. KU's recruitment of the transfers from Memphis led me to believe that they weren't willing to stoop to the "Blue Chips" level of getting players to the program. Their recruiting classes have never been of the Fab Five variety as they have the ability to unmask gems (Frank Mason, Devonte Graham) more frequently than they bring in highly-prized recruits (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid).

I know I referenced "Blue Chips" earlier but that IF Bill Self had to stoop to such a level he would be retiring in the next year or so.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

I think it's possible but most likely the recent signings of transfers were just simply opportunities that Coach Self took advantage of. Throughout his tenure at Kansas, Self has often signed transfers when the player fills a needed position.

Brian Green 5 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps you are correct. I just can't remember, off the top of my head, this volume of transfers at one time.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree that this is the most in such a short time period.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 2 months ago

Hope this clears up soon. No matter how well you think you know your Assistants, it still could have happened. Pitino being involved himself is shocking.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 2 months ago

This is not a joke. The Louisville players will be meeting with the interim President to recommend that he promote assistant coach David Padgett to Head Coach.

I don't know what Padgett has done since he played in college, but he apparently has been on staff at Louisville since 2014.

I can't imagine a school president, or interim, actually bending to the will of the players so I'm sure that if Padgett gets serious consideration then it will be based at some extent on merit. But it's hard to imagine Padgett who is basically my age being ready to be the head coach at Louisville...

Tim Orel 5 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps for interim, but I find it difficult to believe the school wouldn't want to thoroughly clean house, even expecting Padgett to be utterly uninvolved. He was still at the program, still one of the assistants when at least one other one was participating in this - for Louisville to avoid the death penalty I would think they wouldn't touch anyone on the staff with a 10 foot hoop.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 2 months ago

I will always remember David Padgett's freshman year at KU and how he scored the game winning layup against Missouri in the final game in the Hearnes Center in 2004. A pity he didn't stay at KU.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

This looks like a dodge by Padgett when asked if he had any knowledge of what was happening in the corruption scandal.

To me, any answer but NO is the wrong answer.

None by Joe Sonka 😐

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

Not sure if it really matters but the Kansas City Star reports that the latest contract between Kansas and Adidas hasn't been finalized or signed.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 2 months ago

Very interesting. Would the announcement with Adidas and KU have been made after this story broke? I sort of doubt it, at least not immediately after. If it hasn't been signed, it might not get signed in this environment. This agreement, whether we are involved or not, doesn't have good optics for KU's program right now. Oh, well, I really always liked the Swoosh better anyway.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 2 months ago

Why? Their uniforms are butt-ugly, especially with that giant watermark on the back of the basketball jerseys. We don't need that. Adidas has made some nice uniforms for us, especially the ones we have now.

Yonatan Negash 5 years, 2 months ago

Personally speaking, I wish the NCAA would just pay the players.

Then you wouldn't have to worry about this kind of stuff from happening.

John Fitzgerald 5 years, 2 months ago

I kind of agree but that also brings up a whole list of other issues. Do all athletes get paid the same? As in does a volleyball player get paid the same as a football player? And then do all schools in Division 1 pay the same or is it based on who brings in the most money? Or do they apply a salary cap and you get so much money to pay whatever? And do DII schools pay and lower? And then do players get paid more for winning bowl games, division titles, national championships and such? That would be very hard to maintain with a lot of legal issues. But at the end of the day the players generate the money. They definitely deserve to get paid I just think it's the NCAA's job to sit down and figure out the logistics along with getting opinions from college AD's, coaches, and most importantly the players.

Mike Greer 5 years, 2 months ago

I really don't like the idea of paid college athletes. Let them go pro at 15 if they're ready. It's the pro sports making a fortune, let them foot the bill for a minor league team. Make college sports student athletes again. Still give scholarships, but only to players that are student athletes. If you're an athlete and you need the money and you're good enough, go pro at whatever age you can make a team.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 2 months ago

Don't like it but it may be the only way to end all this type of behavior.

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