Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Tom Keegan: Does Kansas have a clean basketball program?

Kansas head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend watch with smiles during the campers vs. counselors scrimmage, Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at the Horejsi Athletic Center.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend watch with smiles during the campers vs. counselors scrimmage, Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at the Horejsi Athletic Center.


It’s reached the point where the issues that need to be addressed with the Kansas basketball program have grown beyond what’s provable and what may or may not lead to an NCAA violation.

It’s bigger than that. It boils down to a central question: Does Kansas believe it has a clean basketball program? Not are they just doing what everybody else is doing. Not can it stay out of trouble. Those are separate, smaller issues.

Does it believe it has a clean basketball program?

Not does it want to believe it has a clean basketball program; rather, does it believe it has a clean basketball program?

Monday, it was a series of vague texts between the Kansas coaching staff and Adidas that came out of reports from the trial on corruption in college basketball in New York.

Tuesday, Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel reported that a defense attorney for Adidas official Merl Code tried to get a bugged phone call between KU basketball assistant coach Kurtis Townsend and Code admitted into evidence. The judge ruled it wasn’t relevant and therefore didn’t allow it. Still, attorney Mark Moore was able to read enough from the transcript of the call to shed Kansas in a shady light.

Moore read so little of it that the context wasn’t complete, but it still didn’t make Kansas look the way anyone wants to look in the court of public opinion, which is where reputations are formed.

On the call, Code shared with Townsend what he had been told regarding what promises prospect Zion Williamson, or more likely what a family member or representative of the family, wanted from the school to which he would commit.

According to Yahoo, here’s what was read from the transcript in court Tuesday:

Code: “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’ … 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.”

On the face of it, that sounds awful. Possible mitigating factors: No. 1, Kansas didn’t get a commitment from Williamson. Duke did. No. 2, Townsend, taken by surprise and having to come up with something to say, said whatever came to mind to make sure that Kansas stayed on Williamson’s list. That doesn’t necessarily mean he had any belief or intention that Kansas would deliver, but he said “we’re going to have to do it some way.”

It’s possible that the rest of that tapped call never is released, and if Kansas just waits for it all to play out, then there is a good chance nothing in the way of NCAA punishment will come from it.

But reading those words can’t make chancellor Douglas Girod anything but queasy. I would be surprised if he doesn’t meet with Townsend as early as today. The chancellor might even be uncomfortable enough about Townsend’s phone call and Self’s texts to announce later this week that he is hiring an outside investigator to look into the recruiting practices of the basketball program.

It seems as if the drip, drip, dripping of reports coming out of the trial has added up to a pool of uneasiness to the extent that the university will want someone to dig deeper so that the school can feel more equipped to answer the question that has to be nagging at the university’s top officials: Does Kansas believe it has a clean basketball program?

Again, Duke landed Williamson; Kansas did not. But the question of whether Duke has a clean program is Duke’s problem, not KU’s.


Eric TheCapn 3 years, 7 months ago

The NCAA is dirty; therefore everything that falls under it is inherently dirty.

Craig Carson 3 years, 7 months ago

It definitely is not a good look..but nothing damning about just leaves things open to biased interpretation from those who love KU and those who wanna see them burn

Edward Daub 3 years, 7 months ago

The Answer is Yes! Clean as a Whistle! Next Question Please!

Brian Zachary 3 years, 7 months ago

It is all about context. Without reading an entire courtroom transcript we cannot possibly know what is being said

Mike Barnhart 3 years, 7 months ago

The business (NCAA basketball) is dirty. If you want to win in a dirty business, you’re gonna’ get some on ya’!

Marcus Balzer 3 years, 7 months ago

I imagine the mens basketball office right now from a scene from the movie Argo when the Iranian activists have stormed the gates and are heading to the central command center. Everyone in the office is burning and disposing of anything that might be considered sensitive information. That is what I imagine that office looks like right now.

Actual realities does KU have a clean basketball program? No. Clearly they don't and that should not come as a shocking revelation. To keep up with the Duke, UNC, and Kentucky's they did what they had to do to stay competitive and now, unfortunately it is all coming to light.

To me, the only thing that is shocking is how DUMB and brazen that ENTIRE coaching staff was about what could be considered illegal recruiting practices.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 7 months ago

The dirty underbelly of college amateurism for major sports programs is in full view and Self and his coaching staff are clearly part of the problem. The NBA and NCAA have not helped and continue to perpetuate the problem with inane rules. As indicated before, let those athletes who have no interest in an education “for 10 months”, skip pretending to be students while waiting to get legally paid for their services.

Robert Brock 3 years, 7 months ago

Just sounds like KT muttering out loud. Nothing more.

Has Dan Wetzel ever gotten anything right in his entire career? I don’t think so.

Jonathan Allison 3 years, 7 months ago

allegedly, Zion Williamson's dad wanted a job so that he could move his family to be near his son and also get paid of course. I'm not saying that it's ethical or even NCAA legal to hire a recruit's father as part of a transaction to gain a commitment. But we have obviously seen this before. Michael Porter Jr. at mizzou and of course who can forget Mario Chalmers and Danny Manning. Just to name a few. So, hiring a family member of a recruit is likely only illegal if it can be proven that the hiring was part of a transactional agreement to sign the recruit (which is usually pretty obvious, but apparently not a hill worth dying on for the NCAA in regards to the ensuing legal battle).

So why now, would the NCAA decide to bring down the hammer on KU for potentially considering employing a recruits father, even after the recruit decided to stay closer to home and attend Duke?

Dane Pratt 3 years, 7 months ago

A better question might be is college basketball and/or college athletics clean? The answer is definitely no, it is inherently dirty and always has been. And until they change the basic structure it will continue to be dirty. Whatever becomes of shoegate won’t change it.

Ben Kane 3 years, 7 months ago

time to realize that kansas is a professional amateur basketball institution. it's not the only one and it's not any different from the elite football schools. these sports institutions are essential to the funding of the secondary purpose of the university, actually educating students.

Eric TheCapn 3 years, 7 months ago

"These sports institutions are essential to the funding of the secondary purpose of the university, actually educating students."

What? No. They are almost completely separate entities and spend most of their money supporting the other sports, not education. Sports are clearly not needed for education, otherwise Harvard, etc., would be a terrible school, because it surely loses lots of money on athletics.

Ben Kane 3 years, 7 months ago

that's not exactly true, being a high profile sports school attracts non athletes for one. it also helps bring in donations, increase overall student experience, etc etc. while the money made (assuming revenue is greater than expenses which appears not to be true for KU) doesn't go to the educational side, there's no argument that it doesn't affect the educational side. I can provide a bunch of links if you like but here's a detailed analysis.

Phil Leister 3 years, 7 months ago

Does the university actually, truly care though? Having a successful basketball team helps everyone, including the university itself.

Eric TheCapn 3 years, 7 months ago

Everyone? It did not "help" me when I was in school and does not "help" me now. We help the team, players, coaches, and staff by spending money on their lucrative business.

Phil Leister 3 years, 7 months ago

You're missing the point, this isn't about you personally. If you think that having one of the premier basketball programs in the country doesn't benefit the entire university as a whole, then I can't help you.

Eric TheCapn 3 years, 7 months ago

It may or may not. There are better schools without any premier sports programs.

Phil Leister 3 years, 7 months ago

Your second sentence is both a true statement and completely irrelevant to the point I am making.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 7 months ago

Every article I've read about this has mentioned that not enough was read to give context to the excerpts read by the defense. If there was a smoking gun there beyond what was read, it would have been brought out by the defense. There may be more bad to this than meets the eye or this may simply be cherry picking the transcript to try to sway opinions. Maybe someday we'll know the rest. Or maybe not. But lacking more information it's hard for me to convict Townsend and Self in my mind. I would feel the same if it were slimy Calipari.

Tracey Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think any of the major college basketball schools run a completely clean program, at least not under the NCAA rules. Not KU, not UNC, not Duke, not Kentucky, not Villanova, etc. I doubt that KU's program is any "dirtier" than any of these programs. TBH, I'm doubtful that any of the D-I programs are completely clean. If the smaller ones aren't paying the players, they are likely breaking some other rule, such as keeping player eligible when he's not even going to class.

But then again I think the NCAA rules make it basically impossible to run a totally clean program, especially when it comes to players getting $, cars or other extra benefits.. The players look around, see everyone making millions if not billions of dollars off THEIR abilities. And correctly wonder why they are the only ones not allowed to make $ off of what they are doing. If the NCAA payed the players, even a nominal monthly stipend of $1000 per month, we would likely see a lot less of these types of stories. And with the billions of dollars the NCAA makes off the basketball and football t.v. contracts, I refuse to believe that they couldnt afford it. There may always be one or two players/families who will still have their hands out. But I believe it would be far less prevalent and the coaches wouldn't .be getting involved, even on the periphery.

Joe Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe the number of people in the comments lately who are willing to poo-poo what has come to light. This will put me at odds with many of you, but so be it. If this had happened at Kentucky, we'd all be jumping on Calipari with the refrain, "We all KNEW he was dirty and here's the proof." But since it's Kansas, we're railing against the context of amateurism, what is and isn't "provable", and the like.


To answer Keegan's question, "Does Kansas have a clean program", if I had to bet my life on it I'd say no in light of what's surfaced in recent days. If your own life were the ante for the game, you'd be smart to say the same.

Phil Leister 3 years, 7 months ago

I fail to see why that scenario is shameful in your eyes. That's how fandom works.

Kyle Berthusen 3 years, 7 months ago

It's shameful because you are accepting a false reality to benefit your own emotional failings. It's easy to do on the internet.

Joe Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

Because fandom is not the end-all, be-all, and it certainly does not trump character and integrity.

That's why.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm with you, Joe. The whole thing is extremely disappointing.

Maybe the fan part of me was just naive, but I truly thought that Self and co. had a clean program. It looks awfully shaky right now.

Steven Haag 3 years, 7 months ago

I have been wondering why our last two recruits are 4 star and ranked in the 80’s to 100. I know we are still in the running for some 5 star, but going after the 1-5 recruits have been on the downside since Josh. Perhaps these players (like Zion) are just not worth it. These greedy high school players that have the gall to hold a school hostage for “their services”? Not worth it. Go after the 4 stars that would simply LOVE to wear KANSAS across their chest and let them work like Frank and Devonte.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't blame the players. A lot of them are coming from places of extreme poverty, and they look around and see everyone else making huge profits off of them. Why SHOULDN'T they try to get as much as they can to help their families out of difficult situations?

So much of the issue would be resolved if the NCAA would just allow the players to get paid for a few expenses and to make money when their likeness is being used. The problem is that the NCAA is still stuck in the long-gone ideals of "amateurism."

Brian Mellor 3 years, 7 months ago

'These greedy high school players that have the gall to hold a school hostage for “their services”?'

Are you joking? You think this is coming from the end of the 16-17 year old kid, and not the adult men with millions of dollars in recompense who are competing against each other to get these kids to choose their particular school? You're gonna try to pretend that the power in these relationships is on the kid, or the family? Any power these kids have under these scenarios is given to them by Other schools, and other agencies, and other money-makers.

This isn't 'Give me 10K and a car and I'll come play for you'. It's 'Shoe company for X University is already giving this kid 10k to play for them, so give them 10k plus car and they'll come play for you.'

If no other moneyed entity was giving these kids benefits, then they wouldn't have any leverage at all. Let's put the blame where it really belongs, good lord.

Joe Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

I love your comment on the strength of the ideas you express. But It's a triangle, though. At least as I see it. You mention the shoe companies and the kids well enough. But it's also true that the universities have been conspiring to provide impermissible benefits. It's also true that the lack of involvement by the schools would reduce the leverage. And let's face it: these families don't have to accept money that is offered to them, especially if the kid has an NBA future ahead of him. So if we're placing blame where it belongs, it's clearly shared by 3 parties: the shoe companies, the universities, and the families.

(To say that if you remove the leg of the shoe company, the house of cards would fall is NOT the same thing as saying they are the only ones contributing to the problem.)

Steven Haag 3 years, 7 months ago

Brian, perhaps you should read the article again. Zion was very clear what HE wanted for himself and his family in order to commit to a school. The shoes companies are greedy and corrupt too, but don’t think for a SECOND that the top elite athletes are asking, “What can you do for me and my family”

Brad Watson 3 years, 7 months ago

Do we run a clean program?.....NO!....Does anyone run a clean program?....NO!...

David Morrison 3 years, 7 months ago

I am really surprised that so many of you so called "KU" basketball fans are willing to throw the coaching staff under the bus. Text messages... phone calls... back and forth between the coaching staff and shoe company executives are completely normal in this day and age of recruiting. How the hell to you think Kansas lands ANY 5 star recruit in today's competitive environment? Do you really think 5 star recruits come to Lawrence simply because of KU's long tradition of winning or because it has an impressive streak of 14 straight Big 12 titles? Perhaps because of its Hall of Fame Coach. Recruiting, like the game of basketball itself, is a battle of the fittest. A handful of colleges get the majority of the top recruits... been that way for many years. That being said, there has been absolutely no evidence that the KU coaching staff has done anything illegal, immoral or unethical in its recruiting practices. Tom Keegan..... why don't you at least pretend to be a loyal KU fan and quit reporting what "might" happen and write articles that positively reflect on the upcoming season. It would behoove all of us to stop promulgating "fake news" like a bunch of "cry baby" liberals. ROCK CHALK....KU.

Joe Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

"...there has been absolutely no evidence that the KU coaching staff has done anything...unethical in its recruiting practices."

Somebody hasn't been paying attention.

Richard Duran 3 years, 7 months ago

Jayhawk Nation has been in denial for a looong time. It was only a matter of time until the truth came out. No elite program is clean.

Curtis Blankenship 3 years, 7 months ago

As a Jayhawk and Kansan, Im fine taking any punishment given to clean this up. We cannot sacrifice the integrity of our school to win. If we are dishonest and have no integrity, we are no better than Missouri.

Tracey Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

I just saw on ESPN that Bill Self allegedly requested that Adidas give him $20,000 so he could pay De Silva to come to Kansas. In return, he would make sure KU kept its deal with Adidas.

IF this is true, then no, Kansas would not have a clean program. And Bill Self might lose his job. Because how is that all that different from what Pitino allegedly did at Louisville?

Freddie Garza 3 years, 7 months ago

If you run a clean program in this day and age, it means one don't win very often. Like I've said and will continue to say, EVERY blue chip recruit is either directly or indirectly receiving some sort of ancillary benefit, whether that's money, housing for family, cars or whatever, and EVERY competitive high major program is playing the game. ALL of them.

Why do you think Coach K is downplaying all of this? Because he knows that NO ONE buys the notion that Zion Williamson's people wanted money and housing for his family to come to Kansas, but went to Duke "for free".

Why do you think the top recruits wait until the very last minute to commit? It's because THERE'S A BIDDING WAR GOING ON. We know at this point that we're playing the game, we can assume Duke is, we know Maryland is, we know Arizona is, and it's only a matter of time before we find out UNC is too. AND Kentucky.

THIS is how the games played, the NCAA knows it, ENCOURAGES it, and GETS WEALTHY AS A RESULT of it.

Best thing we can do is stop the amateurism charade and start paying these kids like the semi-pro athletes that they BASICALLY ARE.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.