Wednesday, April 11, 2018

De Sousa guardian has had long relationship with KU freshman and his family

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) puts up a shot during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) puts up a shot during a shoot around on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Although the involvement of guardian Fenny Falmagne and KU forward Silvio De Sousa in a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball remains up in the air in the eyes of the law, Falmagne maintains that neither he nor De Sousa have done anything wrong.

Late Tuesday night, after a federal indictment was filed that, through specific dates, pointed to De Sousa as one of two KU players whose guardian allegedly took illegal payment from Adidas rep James Gatto during their recruitment, Falmagne told the Journal-World that he never took money from anyone.

Reached again Wednesday afternoon, Falmagne maintained that stance.

“Nothing ever happened,” said Falmagne. “That's the bottom line.”

At the time the future five-star prospect was starting to emerge as a hot prospect in the recruiting world, Falmagne initially said that Adidas had contacted De Sousa about joining the Adidas AAU circuit. Reached later in the day for clarification, Falmagne said De Sousa never had any direct contact with Adidas.

Falmagne said De Sousa, who played his high school ball at Florida's Monteverde Academy, a Nike school, and IMG Academy, affiliated with Under Armour, focused mostly on Under Armour programs because of the opportunity they provided De Sousa as a basketball player.

“Not necessarily (for) the exposure, but the amount of playing time," Falmagne said. "I have never taken anything from Adidas. Silvio hasn't done anything for them. That's the whole thing. He had no affiliation with Adidas. Zero. He never played for Adidas.”

Falmagne said the indictment's implication that the guardian of a KU player who committed to KU on Aug. 30, 2017 — as De Sousa did — allegedly took a payment of $20,000 from Gatto, one of three people charged by federal investigators for defrauding KU and three other universities that have apparel deals with Adidas, were insulting.

“If you saw how I lived, you would know that nothing like that could be true,” said Falmagne of the allegations in the indictment, noting that five other student-athletes under his guardianship were playing college basketball in the United States during the 2017-18 season.

In the 24 hours following release of the indictment, Falmagne said he spoke a few times with De Sousa, who played in 20 of the 23 games in which he was eligible for KU after arriving in Lawrence in December.

Falmagne, 31, said he was De Sousa's only guardian — “There's nobody else.” — and added that he had not considered hiring an attorney.

“No. I'm not doing that,” he said. “There's no need for it.”

Falmagne's connection with De Sousa came a bit by chance.

A native of the Republic of Congo and former college and professional player himself, Falmagne began mentoring foreign basketball players and serving as their guardian in the United States years ago because of his love of the sport and desire to help young athletes the way others helped him.

Falmagne, who has been De Sousa's guardian since January 2015, said he has aided about 15 players like De Sousa in the past, helping them reach their goal of playing Division I basketball. It was one of those previous interactions that led him to De Sousa.

Two years after working with another native Angolan, Leandro Conceicao, who eventually relocated with his family to Portugal after his time in the U.S. and is now playing professionally in Angola, Falmagne received a call from Conceicao, who spoke on behalf of De Sousa and his childhood friend, Bruno Fernando, who last season played at Maryland and has since declared for the 2018 NBA Draft.

“You really touched my life in a really cool way and I want you to help these two kids the same way,” Conceicao told Falmagne. “And I was like, ‘No problem.’”

From there, the relationship flourished and Falmagne took care of De Sousa, on and off the basketball court, ensuring that he dotted all of the i's and crossed all of the t's necessary to fulfill his dream of not only playing Division I basketball, but doing it at a place like KU and getting there a semester early.

What De Sousa did not know at the time, and found out only last year, was that Conceicao was actually his half brother and Falmagne and Silvio's father, Jean, already had a strong connection because of Falmagne's time with Conceicao.

“I had a great relationship with his father at the time,” Falmagne said. “And he felt like, 'If he can do it for my son, he can do it for these kids.' And that was Bruno and Silvio. It is what it is, but they don't understand the relationship that I have with these kids. They just don't get it.”


Dirk Medema 4 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how much of this is Gatto's fabrication?

It doesn't even sound like Falmagne is a "coach" being paid to lead the team like Bagley's dad or Wiggin's mom or .... There was a link to a great Oregonian article in a comment yesterday that documents a lot of the apparel program sponsorship at the HS level. Reading it made it seem real naive to think that paying the players at the NCAA level would somehow solve the problem. It's a multi-B$ industry, but in the world of one of the Rockefellers, when asked how much money does it take to make a person happy - "Just a little bit more".

Greed and Power are rarely ever satisfied,

Brianna Zaleski 4 years, 7 months ago

Sure doesn’t talk like someone who is guilty. Adamant denial is something you want to see hear, imo.

Jim Hoffman 4 years, 7 months ago

you would expect him to admit it if he took the money?

Craig Carson 4 years, 7 months ago

of course he wouldnt admit it, but right now us KU fans are clinging on to any info we get that would indicate KU is in the clear LOL

Geoffrey Alonso 4 years, 7 months ago

Define in the clear. As I have come to understand it, Gatto was paying players/families to choose schools under the Adidas brand. I am not sure I have seen anything that has explicitly said that members of the university have paid players with University/Donor money to have them come to the school. Now, that being said, I am not naive enough to think that there isn't some connection to the school if dug deep enough, but I haven't seen it yet. I am not sure how the NCAA handles this since theoretically the school did nothing wrong, the apparel company did. And seems like this is different from say, Arizona, where you had Sean Miller supposedly discussing the payment of players directly. Any way you shape it, this is bad bad look for the NCAA and the apparel companies, and we are only centered around basketball. Would like to see what happens if they dug into football where the real money is (for most schools).

Craig Carson 4 years, 7 months ago

clear as in KU wont be vacating any games, they can just suspend him and take away some scholarships..I dont care what Gatto did for other schools I only care about KU..mostly DeSousa since Preston never actually played for KU...and technically, Gatto and Adidas didnt pay Silvio to come to KU, Under armor paid (allegedly) his guardian to sway him towards Maryland, when Silvio favored KU, Adidas stepped in to help his guardian get out of his previous arrangement..Silvio was KU bound regardless

Brianna Zaleski 4 years, 7 months ago

No Jim, the point is, if you were being exposed by the FBI, publicly, if you were guilty, you probably wouldn’t run out and adamantly deny the charges. Unless you’re just stupid. If he was guilty, you would expect silence or some sort of posturing behind some lawyer speak. This is not to say that he’s not guilty, of course, but I like the fact that he’s out there immediately denying it without any sort of coaching... If you were accused of something you absolutely did not do, what would your first response be? Mine would be to shout from the mountain top that this is categorically false.

Gary McCullough 4 years, 7 months ago

"No Jim, the point is, if you were being exposed by the FBI, publicly, if you were guilty, you probably wouldn’t run out and adamantly deny the charges."

That has not been my observation, of late.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't know nearly enough about Fenny to suggest that his response is instinctual self-preservation, or an honest attempt to clear his name. But I really don't get a good feeling about him until I know more about his role with all of these African children.

A quick search of the google on him and I found that he apparently played some college at what seems to be a junior college in Bradenton Florida in 2006. He apparently had a very brief period with a Wizards DLeague affiliate in 2008 where he maybe scored 1 basket in 2 appearances. He had another brief stent with a team in the United Kingdom. He apparently was an assistant coach on a florida prep team in 2013. He and his wife apparently are having a baby girl in June and are registered at Target. And apparently his legal name is Benjamin.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully the FBI is looking into possible human trafficking issues associated with basketball players and off shore kids, especially from Aftrica. 60 Minutes did a feature on this not long ago.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 7 months ago

I completely forgot about that. I think it was first exposed in 2008.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm looking for it on youtube..... can't find one about African basketball players.


I remember talking about "legal guardians" acting like sports marketing agents during the whole Thon Maker saga. Embiid talked about his mentor being Luc Mbah a Moute, but I don't think he needed a legal guardian, probably because his family was able to provide some support for him from Cameroon. He probably lived with a host family similar to Azubuike. Diallo I seem to remember having a legal guardian. Azubuike again... seems to only have a host family.

Marcia Parsons 4 years, 7 months ago

I read, in the Jason King article I think, that the Florida couple are indeed Dok's guardians, and that he calls them Mom and Dad.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

Let me get this right.

So this guy has helped like 15 native Africans come to the US and play basketball.

He is legal guardian of several young basketball players at a time.

He played college ball and apparently had some type of a pro career somewhere...

He is friends with Silvio's father and mentored De Sousa's distant half-brother.

How can he afford to care for all of these young athletes? Does he have a job? Is he wealthy? Does he have royal ancestry? How much did he earn playing basketball? Do the families send him money? Does he run a non-profit organization and take donations?

Mentoring and providing guardianship for all of these young athletes has to be hugely time-consuming and cost lots of money. It just doesn't really register with me how that can really be someone's real life unless they are being bankrolled somehow.

Titus Canby 4 years, 7 months ago

Jonathan, I was thinking the same thing. He's a 30 year old guardian of multiple teenage potential NBA players? Yeah, I trust whatever he says.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

woah, I totally glossed over the fact that he's just 31 years old.

Phil Leister 4 years, 7 months ago

I really, really want to believe him...

Mike Riches 4 years, 7 months ago

Someone once said that not hiring an attorney either means you're dumb and innocent or stupid and guilty...

If this guy really has been trying to do the right thing and help these young African players, then I really feel bad for him. Either way, he's going to need some help.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 7 months ago

Mike, I totally agree. If his gentlemen thinks not hiring a lawyer will help him project innocence them he is doing himself and his "clients" a HUGE disservice!!

At this point, I don't believe a word he has said about the money. As Jonny earlier stated, where in the heck is he getting the money to be the Good Samaritan?

Least damaging result, we lose De Sousa for a number of games...worst case scenario, we lose everything....victories, titles, Final Four, Langford, scholarships as well as Silvio for good.

Everybody is probably considered guilty by the NCAA unless your school name begins with a D, ends with an E and has U K in the midfdle!

Gary McCullough 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm afraid this is a likely scenario. If this happens, KU needs to cut ties with Addidas, and demand future partnerships value the reputation of the University. Even if we don't get as big a contract, we are sending a message to potential suitors that we don't play that way. Be Clean. Be Transparent. Be Proud Jayhawks.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 7 months ago

What the hell did Dunkerque ever do to you!!

Clarence Haynes 4 years, 7 months ago

Has there been any evidence of a money trail indicating money paid to the guardian?

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 7 months ago

Everyone needs to slow down. This is going to be hanging over our heads for quite some time despite the University so far is looking like a victim. There are always trolls/media wanting to take pot shots at top programs.

It might be until a court decides the date to disclose evidence. Really, all we are doing is rehashing hearsay.

Does anybody know where Silvio is? He could probably use some support.

Earl Williams 4 years, 7 months ago

Yes he is guilty and if Jim Gatto was some low level crook , we could say , maybe he is not truthful . But dude is the Director of Global Sports Marketing for Adidas. There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who can do time in prison and those who will sing every note of a song to stay out ! We are in trouble because Jim will sing every note of a very long song! Truth

Titus Canby 4 years, 7 months ago

I agree with you Earl, but I can't resist this quote from a demographic researcher:

"There are 2 types of people in this world, those who categorize others, and those who don't."

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 4 years, 7 months ago

I'd love to believe he is innocent and all of this is somehow a misunderstanding. However, I can't imagine the FBI would make a federal indictment without fairly solid evidence of wrongdoing.

That being said, there's no evidence to suggest KU had any knowledge of any of this or did anything inappropriate; or that that matter, Silvio was directly involved.
If there is evidence that Silvio knew of (or worse took) anything then this becomes a significant issue for KU. Otherwise, its just a little embarrassing.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

Someone is obviously lying here. If he got the money if the form of cash and did not run it through a bank account, he could maybe pull this off. If there is a check or wire trail to any bank account of his, he would obviously be toast.

[''] 4 years, 7 months ago

This guy can't seem to keep his lies straight: "Falmagne initially said that Adidas had contacted De Sousa about joining the Adidas AAU circuit. Reached later in the day for clarification, Falmagne said De Sousa never had any direct contact with Adidas." Which is it?

Jay Hawkinson 4 years, 7 months ago

It does seem more likely than not that Falmagne took money. The FBI wouldn't include that in the Gatto indictment unless they felt good about the evidence. The other point people are making about Falmagne clearly needing the money to be a guardian to that many kids also makes sense. But that raises the possibility that he was keeping the money himself, or giving it to De Sousa indirectly in the form of food, clothes, etc.

I think it will play out like this: De Sousa will claim he knows nothing about any payments. The NCAA will look at his bank records, possessions, etc. If there is no evidence that the money made it to Silvio, he/we should be okay. It may take a while for him to be re-certified, but there's plenty of time until next season.

The big question is whether there are still more shoes yet to drop. The Billy Preston car story looks very suspicious in hindsight. It seems like the coaching staff knew about the money, even if they didn't orchestrate it. We'll see how that shakes out.

David Howell 4 years, 7 months ago

We have been the whipping boy of the NCAA before when they've looked the other way in regards to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, etc. They like to string it out in hopes everyone forgets .............

Kansas University needs to seek a high profile attorney if the NCAA tries to come down on KU if they in fact knew nothing. I hate to see Silvio pay the price, but if that is found to be true then so be it.

Michigan State's whole campus administration / athletic program has covered up more sex and rape allegations then all of us will ever know !

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

I also wonder what is going on with the NCAA. They let North Carolina cheat in the classroom for their athletes, Baylor sex assaults, Mich State sex assaults, and then their damn hair is on fire over a few Big Mac's thrown at some players!

Craig Carson 4 years, 7 months ago

the NCAA cant do anything until the FBI concludes its investigation..even then, the NCAA is gonna have to do its own investigation to prove all of this before they can that could take a few years...

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 7 months ago

We are well past pointing fingers when it comes to this specific investigation. The more legal representation we hire will just slow down the process.

If we are clean and I think we are, we need to be seen as helping the investigation reach a conclusion while always maintaining enough distance to protect the University. We don't know what we don't know.

Don Kennedy 4 years, 7 months ago

It was reported that the NCAA hasn't gotten involved at this time at the request of the FBI. One ray of hope is that the amount of money taken out and reported as being for the guardians or parents does not match the amount of money they claim was paid. There may have been some skimming by the runners, which deteriorates credibility. This opens the door for the guardians or parents to claim that this was all a scam for the middle mans benefit and they had no idea that this was happening. On the other hand, money leaves a trail when you receive it, spend it, or both. To alter a famous movie quote, "If you spend it, they will come." They being the Feds. I hope that the guy is telling the truth, but...

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