Thursday, November 1, 2018

Wiretapped phone call of KU coach may become part of NCAA inquiry; AD confirms NCAA hasn’t started on De Sousa review

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion.

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion.


University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said Thursday that a wiretapped phone conversation where a KU coach and an Adidas representative discussed the possibility of paying a recruit may be part of a future “inquiry” with the NCAA.

But Long left unclear whether he has done anything to already ascertain what the intentions were of KU assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend when he was caught on tape with Adidas representative Merl Code discussing inducements that might have to be given to attract a top recruit.

In a federal fraud trial in New York last month, a defense attorney for Code read from a transcript of a recorded phone conversation between Code and Townsend. According to the transcript, after Code told Townsend that top recruit Zion Williamson was seeking inducements of money, housing for family members and other items prohibited by NCAA rules, Townsend said: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way. Because if that’s what it takes to get him for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

On Thursday, Long noted the actual recording wasn’t played in court but rather the only information has been from a transcript. When asked whether KU ever would provide the public with an explanation about what Townsend meant by that response, Long said: “It was read from a document. I have not seen that document. I don’t know the validity of that document. We hope we’ll be able to see that information and use it in our inquiry with the NCAA.”

When asked whether he had asked Townsend what he meant by the comments, Long said, “I can’t say any more than what I just said.”

Townsend continues to coach for the Jayhawks, and head coach Bill Self previously has said that none of Townsend’s recruiting duties have been curtailed after the information surfaced at trial.

Long was asked whether he was concerned that absent an explanation, Townsend’s comments would be broadly interpreted by the public as a sign that KU had a coach who was willing to break a fundamental NCAA rule prohibiting the payment of players.

“That might be your view, but that is not mine, and I can’t comment any further,” Long said.

Long also declined to comment on whether he thought an independent investigation of KU’s basketball recruiting practices was warranted.

The Journal-World questioned Long after he spoke at a University Senate meeting, where he discussed the athletic department’s role in the larger university. In his comments to the group, Long said there is work yet to do with the NCAA on compliance issues. But he also said the timing of that work was uncertain. Two more federal trials related to college basketball corruption issues are set for early next year, and those federal prosecutions may impact the speed at which the NCAA would undertake any investigations into compliance issues.

“We are continuing to wait for the Department of Justice to clear us to pursue some things from an NCAA compliance standard,” Long said. “We are standing by waiting for the go-ahead. We will pursue that. We will work with the NCAA. We will work very hard to get to the bottom of it. Should we find things that are inappropriate, we will act upon them in a way that you would expect us to.”

Long also briefly touched on the decision to withhold sophomore Silvio De Sousa from competition until certain questions can be resolved. Testimony in the trial included an admission by an Adidas representative that De Sousa’s guardian had been paid $2,500 for online courses for De Sousa, and allegations that the guardian accepted a larger payment from a University of Maryland booster.

Long said he decided holding De Sousa out of competition would be the “prudent” action. He said KU hopes to work with the NCAA to resolve any eligibility questions, but said the NCAA has not begun to work on the matter.

“We are working with the NCAA when they let us know they are ready to work on it,” Long said. “We have not heard from them. We are waiting to hear from them.”


Bryce Landon 3 years, 6 months ago

Now it really is looking like De Sousa may miss the season.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 6 months ago

Bryce, I have stated several times that I felt that Silvio would play in the second semester, however, down deep, I was pretty much prepared for the inevitable. KU is already walking on the edge of a slippery slope covered with ice. There is absolutely no way Kansas can take any action that even remote;y adds more fuel to the fire that seems to get hotter and hotter as each day passes.

I truly hope I am wrong but I am afraid I am not!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 6 months ago

Enough of the NCAA. It's archaic and not interested in change.

"We are working with the NCAA" that's as scary as hearing " We're from the Gov't and are here to help".

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

The University of Kansas is a member of the NCAA. The NCAA is not some nebulous organization out to screw with KU or any other university. It takes its marching orders from all its member universities which have agreed to self regulation.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 6 months ago

What? Who said the NCAA was some "nebulous organization out to screw with KU"?

Marc Frey 3 years, 6 months ago

I said on here De Sousa would not play this year. As of today, nothing has changed my mind.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 6 months ago

Not that it matters but I don't know why they couldn't let him play against Emporia and Washburn. Those are exhibition games so if we had to forfeit them, so what.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 6 months ago

Because the team already has more players than they can use and adding one more to the mix just takes minutes from the young guys that need game minutes to get better. Also helps the rest of the guys get used to playing with the team that will start the season.

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

@Dane...thats an easy question to answer..the KU staff knows Silvio wont be playing anytime why take away minutes from another player who WILL be playing just to let a player who wont get some reps

Kenneth Johnson 3 years, 6 months ago

Well, just like the NCAA did with Billy Preston, they decide the best way to screw Kansas is to not make a decision, leaving the Jayhawks and DeSousa in the lurch.

Kenn Johnson (KU MS ’70) Author of Kansas University Basketball Legends (2013) and More University of Kansas Basketball Legends (2014), both published by The History Press, and available at KU Bookstores and Amazon.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

Preston's case and de Sousa's are quite different. Billy Preston is presumed to have been driving a car which was either not his own (i.e. an illegal loaner), or was an improper gift which violated NCAA rules. Billy had to have been aware of his infraction, even if he was unaware of any alleged bribes his mother may have accepted. It can be argued Silvio did not have knowledge of any alleged payments to his guardian. It can also be argued that he was kept in the dark regarding the method of payment for his online classes and such payment being a possible violation of NCAA rules.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 6 months ago

He isn't presumed to have been driving, he was driving and it was put in the police report.

"illegal loner"? No such law exists. You can probably lone out your spouse along with the car if you want.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 6 months ago

Not sure how they "screwed" looks like we avoided playing someone who was definitely ineligible through their actions.

Mike Hart 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh boo hoo hoo, Kenneth. Poor KU... The NCAA spent less than 4 weeks on the Billy Preston case.. .while KU took SIX weeks (Dec 22nd) to turn anything over to the NCAA. We are not "victims" here. Townsend's texts are damning... as it indicates KU (or at least Townsend) was willing to facilitate/enable or at least allow payments to be made to recruits and if you won't admit that then you are just being a homer. Sure, the NCAA is worth of its fair share of criticism, but the NCAA didn't screw Kansas over Billy Preston. KU knew about the payments at some point prior to Preston leaving... do you REALLY think that Adidas would keep that from KU after 2.5 months of review last November through this January? Get serious...

Dane Pratt 3 years, 6 months ago

There is plausible deniability albeit very little with Self’s and Townsends text messages but at the very least it serves to corroborate that the programs are aware of what is going on even if they are not directly involved in it. My concern, is this the tip of the iceberg?

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

um no..the texts reveal nothing in regards to them having knowledge of payments..the text are extremely vague...all they reveal is that Self talked to Gassnola..talking to someone who is guilty doesnt make you guilty

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 6 months ago

They are vague enough that it requires you to "fill in the blanks" to figure out what's known/not known, what exactly is being stated, what's just being said to keep the kid "on the hook", etc. I find your ability to come up with your own conclusion and then be so certain that you've got it right and others don't a bit disturbing.

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

@Shannon..thank you..we have too many people on this board who are already pegging Self and his staff guilty without any concrete about having some faith and positivity until actual facts come out

Mike Hart 3 years, 6 months ago

Better yet, Craig... how about NOT defending Self and Townsend instead of going in with a preconceived notion that they knew nothing. The "evidence" we have now is insubstantial to say they are guilty.. .but it certainly doesn't lean toward their innocence.. their supposed ignorance of what was going on. Keep any open mind instead of just blindly defending the program.

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

@Mike or how about you quit talking like Self and his staff are already guilty...Id prefer to give a man who has spent 14 5 years at KU acting with integrity some benefit of the doubt until something 100% accurate comes seems like your mind is already made up that they should just fired Self and the whole staff because of some vague texts..if imma peg someone as guilty, i need concrete evidence..not fill in the blanks wire taps and texts..I hope you never do a murder trial, whoever poor SOB is accused of the crime is already guilty before the evidence comes out..i suggest you go find another team to follow and take your negativity elsewhere...CLASS DISMISSED

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

You want to protect Self and Townsend but have no interest in giving benefit of the doubt to De Sousa? Which, I’m still trying to find out exactly what he did wrong. Not his “Guardian”, but De Sousa the kid? Seems like you’re presenting a double standard.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 6 months ago

I’m not saying Self and company took part in the payoffs, I’m saying they knew what was going on and allowed it to happen. It is the NCAA that will fill in the blanks. Do you think they are as naïve as you are? Their investigation will be based on the content of the text messages and not on an allegiance to KU.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 6 months ago

We've got an expert at filling in the blanks here folks, the NCAA better hire him quick before someone else does!

Dane Pratt 3 years, 6 months ago

Not that difficult Shannon, place the text messages in the proper context and your average Wheel of Fortune contestant will figure it out.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 6 months ago

Considering the texts were cherry-picked from a larger conversation and the context was not provided, it's impossible to provide "proper" context until the rest of the conversation is released.

Bee Bee 3 years, 6 months ago

Tell the National Communists Against Athletes to pound sand and play ball.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

You're preaching to your own school. "We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us."

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

I have not seen the entire transcript of Kurtis's conversation, but reading the most damning portion which was posted in this article and earlier last week, there is nothing to indicate that Kurtis was ready to offer anything illegal to get Williamson to come to KU. His words could be construed as someone who is trying to think of a way to encourage a highly regarded recruit to come to KU, nothing more, nothing less. The only thing I find disturbing is, he didn't specifically tell the shoe rep that Kansas was not willing to meet any demands from the recruit or his father, which could be construed as illegal inducements. Those should be the first words out of his mouth whenever anyone suggests that the School provide illegal benefits to a recruit or anyone representing him.

Mike Hart 3 years, 6 months ago

While we don't know the exact context... we know 2 things: (1) A Betting man would bet that Townsend was WILLING to pay him and meet Zion's demands.. because they texted about what it would take job/family/finances to get Zion to come to Ku.. and in response to that.. .Townsend said if that is what it takes to get him, then we will have to do it some way. While not 100% stated what "it" means.. .it should be pretty transparent to any unbiased person. (2) Townsend hasn't commented and the University won't make Townsend available to comment. If his words were misconstrued ... and actually mean something else, then it would be in Townsend's, Self's.. .and KU's best interest to clear this up immediately. The trial is over... KU not involved in any potential fallout regarding Zion Williamson.. so why not comment? Nope, KU took it one step further... they refuse to release records regarding Adidas payments to KU... after twice stalling ... only to come out the 3rd time and say "You know what, we don't have to release this information". Well that's just GREAT... say that the first time then instead of copping out with the "staffing personnel-limited" excuse... come back Oct 23... then Oct 28.. .and then finally: We don't have to release this. It looks damn ugly... and that's a fair and honest assessment by a diehard KU fan.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

The trial may be over but the NCAA investigation hasn't officially begun. Until the school knows the extent of any investigation into KU's recruiting practices, it would be irresponsible for anyone involved to make any public statements, especially Coach Townsend. After all, he is innocent until proven guilty, is he not?

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

If Townsend is innocent until proven guilty, what does that make De Sousa? 100 percent Innocent? So, should Townsend not Coach and sit out without pay until the NCAA figures out its case and findings? De Sousa is the fall guy and I’m not okay with that.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 6 months ago

Tell the NCAA to fix their dumb rules then as it's their fault that kids who "may" be deemed ineligible have to be held hostage for fear of retroactive suspensions that forfeit wins.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 6 months ago

Remember, the prosecutor was not allowed to play the wiretap nor read the entire transcript in court. We have a snippet, not the conversation. Also, the prosecutor's case was completely based on KU not knowing. They won, indirectly we won. Also, KU was used as the key university because we knew the least. Some universities may have had a person involved, but KU's was the clearest of non involvement.

KU also held out any player when there was a question.

I'm sure Townsend has had several people say a 100k will get a commitment and he dismisses it without the abrupt no. I tend to agree a direct denial of doing that was warranted. To give Townsend credit Townsend didn't know the funds could have been made by Adidas, Townsend may have reported this to KU compliance shortly after the call. Townsends'tone, context and complete reply has never been given.

Let's not execute a 15 year devoted assistant, because we have a partial transcript of Townsend without context, action of the staff, or tone of the reply. I believe Townsend has earned that.

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

EXACTLY....the wire tap was too vague to assume seeing as how he ended up going to Duke, does that mean Duke gave him what he wanted? and lastly, this wasnt HIM offering anything to sign Zion, it was just a convo informing him if what the kids family wantd

John Strayer 3 years, 6 months ago

It wasn't the prosecutor...but the defense that tried to get the calls/transcript admitted as evidence. They felt it supported their defense that the schools knew what was occurring and thus the schools weren't defrauded.

Prosecution didn't want the calls/transcript admitted and the judge ruled in the prosecutions favor.

Tom Jones 3 years, 6 months ago

Exactly. If/when the entire call is released, I would be much more surprised if it helped Townsend/KU's position in this than hurt it.

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

I see the comment above that we (Fans/Public) shouldn’t execute a 15 year assistant coach because of a partial wiretap transcript? Yet, we have a full transcript about Silvio De Sousa and his “Guardian” and this kid is suspended, sitting out, delayed playing, or whatever else you want to call it until further notice by Kansas or until he NCAA makes a ruling? Anybody else have issue with that or see something fundamentally wrong with that approach? What exactly has Silvio De Sousa done wrong?

Now, I know Preston and De Sousa’s situations are a little different, but does that really change the fact for what Kansas, Self, and Townsend really knew? From my perspective it doesn’t change anything in the grand scheme of things. What it does tell me though is that “Kansas will protect Kansas” at all costs. What kind of message does that send future recruits or rather “Student Athletes”?

Normally, I would agree with that approach in protecting Kansas at all costs, but not in this instance. Where is the protection and support for De Sousa? Kid is in the middle of a major cluster mess up so “Kansas” can figure out their story and the “NCAA” can wait however long they want to decide a ruling. Pardon my language, but De Sousa is getting __! No way around it.

Sure, fans/posters/public all want to make the case he can just sit out until conference and if he doesn’t get a ruling, he can just go pro? Really? It’s just that easy? It’s just that simple? His guardian is in trouble, his parents are in another country, who is actually protecting De Sousa? Is it really Kansas? I have my doubts.

I hate the “Big Boy” comments Self referenced when talking about De Sousa’s suspensison/sitting out. From my spective, if Kansas, Self and Jeff Long really want to put on their “Big Boy Pants”, this would be a great time to tell the NCAA to go “__ Off”. Some of you want to act like Self and Townsend are still innocent or didn’t truly know, but if the NCAA really wants the dirt to come to the forefront, they will find that dirt and information. IMO, play De Sousa!!! If you truly believe he did nothing wrong and is a victim, then play the kid! Force the NCAA’s hand.

What is the worst thing that would happen? NCAA takes down banners, puts asterik’s by your season and act like it never happened? From where I sit, the Fab 5 was still the Fab 5, Memphis still went 38-2 and lost to Kansas for the title in 2008, Louisville still cut down the nets in 2013, and UNC went unscathed in the largest academic scandal in collegiate sports history.

For once, do the right thing. This is the one time I don’t believe in “Protecting the Kansas Program” at all costs. Sure would be a statement to show support for Silvio De Sousa no matter what the repercussions may potentially be from the NCAA. I think Kansas is taking the chicken __ route currently. Time to put the Big Boy pants on and do the right thing for De Sousa.

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

KU is doing the right thing..why should the University risk a whole season to play a kid that could be ruled ineligible? if sitting him out sends a message to future recruits, then should send out that KU isnt afraid to sit your kid and risk their NBA prospects if you take benefits..also should prove that no one player is bigger than the program..I want kids and parents who want to ask for money to know KU isnt gonna play that game

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

SMH. You’re stuck in fantasy land. Explain to me what Silvio De Sousa has done wrong?

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

The needs of the many, (14 other Jayhawk student-athletes) outweigh the needs of the one (de Sousa).

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

I would really like to believe that. I've tried rationalizing that stance and I really can't. Not based off the information that was presented. This situation is different. De Sousa is in no different spot than Self or Townsend. In this instance, from where I sit, the rest of the team doesn't out weigh De Sousa because Self and Townsend are directly correlated. But, Good Luck trying to justify that.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

The NCAA cleared Silvio (academically) to play last season and, one could assume they determined that his online courses were all above board. Now, an FBI investigation turns up a shoe company rep who claims Silvio's guardian was given money for Silvio's online courses as well as bribes. Self has no control over last season's record should the NCAA decide to vacate any games. He does however, have control over this season. Should it be determined that Silvio was ineligible both last season and this, don't you think it might be easier for KU to claim innocence for last season while keeping him on the bench this season, given the new evidence that has come to the School's and the NCAA's knowledge?

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

That’s the the thing. You keep trying to prove “KU’s Innocence” or defend the actions of Self and Townsend. Let’s not be naive here. Instead, let’s just embrace the situation at hand. You’re exactly right, Self has no recourse over last season or its record or all the accolades that came with it.

De Sousa is a pawn. You really think De Sousa is the main issue at play here? If the NCAA wants to find anything on Townsend or for that matter, Self, it’s pretty much all there. Whether it was last year or this upcoming season, by the time the NCAA makes a decision, it will all be revisionary decisions at play.

Let me ask you this, you really think Silvio De Sousa did anything wrong here? Not his guardian, Not anybody else but Silvio De Sousa himself? If you don’t then why is he sitting and what is there to worry about? His guardian is going to jail. Imo force the NCAA’s hand and make them be the hypocrites that they really are.

De Sousa already played last year so what’s the differnce between last year and this year? A couple banners and a couple asteriks? You say what about the other 14 players on the team? I say, what about De Sousa? Self and Townsend have as much damning wire taps then anything De Sousa himself was involved in. Business as usual. If you going to play the game you better be ready to finish it. Especially, if you believe De Sousa is innocent, which I do.

David Robinett 3 years, 6 months ago

Townsend’s comment could refer to things like hiring family members to be on the staff which is an accepted practice.

Mike Hart 3 years, 6 months ago

Baloney.. Townsend's comments never made it to trial.. but the context of the text exchange was made public and is as follows:

In a September phone call between Townsend and Adidas consultant Merl Code, the discussion turned to KU’s recruitment of Williamson, a top-five national recruit out of South Carolina. Mark Moore, one of the attorneys for Code, read a transcript of the call.

Townsend: “Hey, but between me and you, you know, he asked about some stuff. You know? And I said, ‘Well, we’ll talk about that, you decide.’ ”

Code: “I know what he’s asking for. He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family.”

Townsend: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

So basically, Code told Townsend that He (Zion) was asking for occupational opportunities, housing for his family.. .and CASH IN HIS POCKET. To which, Townsend very next response was "... if that's what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we're GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT SOME WAY". His answers were in DIRECT response to Code telling him what it would take to get Williamson. Best-case scenario... Townsend was open to the idea of trying to meet those demands. He certainly didn't say "No way. We aren't / can't do that!"

David Klamm 3 years, 6 months ago

You really do hate KU basketball and Bill Self. Just walk away if you despise KU basketball that much. Somehow KU failed repeatedly to sign elite players while they watched them go to schools like Arizona, UK, and Duke and yet I'm supposed to believe that Adidas didn't have big enough pockets to secure a guy like Bagley or Zion or Ayton to come to KU when they were throwing 150K at a marginal PRO talent like Brian Bowen. Either that means KU wasn't a priority for Adidas despite being their premiere college program for the brand or Townsend and Self suck at convincing Adidas to outbid Nike for Zion or possibly those very incomplete transcripts suggest that Townsend was looking for another way to convice Zion and his dad that short term money gains weren't worth what KU could offer to him for the long term. It's really remarkable that Zion played the Adidas circuit and wore Adidas gear all the way up until about a month before he committed to Duke when he switched to Nike gear and yet Townsend just couldn't get Adidas to offer Zion enough money to come to KU. I absolutely believe that Self fully wants Adidas to do everything possible to help recruit kids to KU because that in itself is parting of the recruiting advantage to be gained by being with Adidas. KU was literally in the middle of signing the largest contract Adidas had every signed with a University and I would be shocked if Self didn't have a conversation where he said if KU is going to sign on with Adidas they want their full weight to help him recruit studs to KU. None of that is against the rules and would absolutely involve conversations that Self would have had with Gassanola and Gatto. If all the defense had on KU was a one sentence snippet from Townsend that commits to nothing then there is nothing there.

Robert Brock 3 years, 6 months ago

If De Sousa is not going to play this season, will he stick around?

Craig Carson 3 years, 6 months ago

If I were him, if im not cleared by Christmas break, then im looking into my post college career and getting out...even if he stays all season, there is no guarantee the NCAA every clears him

Chris Shaw 3 years, 6 months ago

NCAA already cleared him last year through the clearinghouse. Kansas, Self, and the athletic department are voluntarily withholding him because of new findings. FindIngs, ironically, they knew about all along. You make it seem so easy for De Sousa’s future plans. Protect the program at all costs, right?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 6 months ago

I think Bill Self said most things were known about De Sousa, but something was identified in the trial as unknown. Like with any clearing house, KU has to clear that item if possible. Then they will play him. I'm guessing nothing in the trial was unknown about Townsend. Also neither party called Townsend or Self to testify.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 6 months ago

Living in Arizona, they cover the U of A case a lot more. That one looks pretty bad for Coach Miller. Even the University looks like they may boot him. All of that, when it comes out, may make our situation not look as bad.

Tim Orel 3 years, 6 months ago

Please get it right - Bill's messages were by text. Townsend's were in the partial transcript (edited presumably to favor the defense) of a telephone call. Before saying it's damning, it would be important to have the full call, including the audio to pick up any audible cues.

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