Originally published January 6, 2019 at 09:05p.m., updated January 7, 2019 at 05:21p.m.

Udoka Azubuike injury shifts focus even more to the status of KU sophomore Silvio De Sousa

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) watches from the bench during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) watches from the bench during the second half of an exhibition, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


The Silvio De Sousa question likely just went from a simmer to a full-blown boil for Kansas basketball fans.

With news of Udoka Azubuike's season-ending wrist injury surfacing on Sunday, expect more focus on the question of whether the University of Kansas and the NCAA will reach resolution on the eligibility of De Sousa.

Don’t, however, expect the timeline to be sped up.

When reached by the Journal-World last month, before NCAA offices closed for winter break, an NCAA spokesperson said there would be no comment regarding a timeline for a ruling on De Sousa’s eligibility, what the investigation into De Sousa and/or KU included and whether there had been recent correspondence between KU and the NCAA regarding De Sousa’s status.

“I recommend you reach out to the school on this matter,” Emily James, the NCAA’s associate director of public and media relations, told the Journal-World.

KU officials, of course, have remained quiet on De Sousa's situation, with KU coach Bill Self occasionally addressing the matter by saying there was nothing new to report, or that he hoped news would come soon.

De Sousa has not played a game yet during his sophomore season, as KU voluntarily has held him out of competition after allegations surfaced during a federal fraud trial this fall that his guardian accepted money as part of an illegal scheme involving Adidas officials and De Sousa’s path to KU.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound De Sousa has experience filling in for Azubuike, having done so down the stretch last season, starting with the three games Azubuike missed at the 2018 Big 12 tournament because of a knee injury and spilling into the NCAA Tournament all the way to the Final Four.

When asked in more general terms about eligibility reviews like the one involving De Sousa, James, the NCAA spokesperson, said, “Generally speaking, each eligibility case is evaluated on the specific and unique facts of the case, but all cases use the same process.

“If a student-athlete is involved in a potential rule violation, the school declares the student-athlete ineligible, works to find out what happened and then submits a reinstatement request to the NCAA. The NCAA’s reinstatement staff reviews the request and issues a decision that may include a withholding or repayment of benefits. A school can appeal the staff decision to a committee made up of representatives from the membership.”

James also said there was no set timeline in any such cases and added that the NCAA could not even begin its review until it received a request from the school.

“Once it receives the request, the staff reviews as quickly as it can,” James explained. “The timeline can be impacted if new information is produced during the review or if the staff requests more information from the school.”

It is currently unclear when, or if, KU has formally made or needed to make a reinstatement request to the NCAA regarding De Sousa. The Journal-World asked that question of KU officials Monday morning and received a response late Monday afternoon.

"We cannot get into any particulars," associate athletic director Jim Marchiony told the Journal-World. "But everyone is working together for a resolution that is best for all parties involved."

Without knowledge of whether KU has submitted a request, it's hard to know whether the NCAA is moving slowly or if De Sousa's case is being reviewed at all.

During his regularly scheduled news conference on Monday, Self said that he checks in with KU administrators on De Sousa's status daily, and that there was still no news to report.

"No, there is not at this point in time that I know about," Self said. "I know the university is working hard trying to bring a resolution to it, but that hasn't occurred yet. I'm not privy to all the information on timetable and stuff like that. When I ask my daily deal, it's 'working on it', which is 100 percent accurate and we know that to be the case."

As for how De Sousa has handled being withheld from action now that his time on the bench has spilled into conference play, Self painted the picture of a player becoming increasingly frustrated by the situation.

"He is crushed," Self said Monday. "And he will be more crushed now because his partner (Azubuike) can't play and he knows his role could be bigger. Whether Dok plays or not, that is totally isolated from Silvio, totally different. We would want him to be available and have him the chance to do regardless of Dok's situation. You could think it could be a little more magnified now. In my world and my eyes, it's not. It's still the same situation that we are in. People are trying to move forward with it. It's just not as quickly as we had hoped."

The De Sousa situation is somewhat similar to that of former KU forward Billy Preston, who also was mentioned in the corruption case and left KU about a year ago without playing in a single official game for the Jayhawks.

While review of Preston’s case, which later was revealed to be a reinstatement matter, dragged out and hit a snag because NCAA offices were closed for an extended period over the holidays, the former five-star prospect got tired of waiting and left KU last January to play for a professional team overseas. The move made him eligible for the NBA draft and Preston later briefly caught on with the Cleveland Cavaliers organization after going undrafted last June.

According to information in two separate indictments and testimony at a federal trial last October, De Sousa’s guardian received a payment from Under Armour to steer De Sousa to Maryland and later received $2,500 from an Adidas executive to help De Sousa enroll in online classes in order to be able to attend KU a semester early.

Both De Sousa and Falmagne have denied taking any kind of payment, but the program has operated with caution and sought complete clarity in order to avoid any potential future punishments for using an ineligible player.

De Sousa has continued to practice with the Jayhawks during the past couple of months and can be seen sitting on the bench in street clothes during KU games.


Creg Bohrer 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd say chances are slim we ever see him in a KU uniform again...

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

as much as they could use him right now, its still not worth risking the entire season by playing him..they still have more than enough talent for a FF run

Dillon Davis 3 years, 8 months ago

Well if he's ruled ineligible, we're likely going to have to forfeit last year's Final Four. And with Dok out, we aren't likely going to the Final Four this year so what is there to lose at this point by playing him?

Jonathan Allison 3 years, 8 months ago

if the NCAA committees made eligibility or discipline decisions based on algorithms then I'd say you may have a point. But in reality, appearances have a very real impact on NCAA decisions, and playing De Sousa now, before the NCAA makes any declaration regarding his eligibility would be a very bad look for KU.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that he hasn't left to begin his pro-career, a la Billy Preston. Clearly Billy's mom was a real go-getter, whereas De Sousa's family/guardianship situation is a bit more complicated

I would be shocked to see De Sousa play at KU this season. I would expect him to leave KU after this season to go pro. However, I would leave open a slim (but real) possibility that De Sousa stays at KU and plays next season. I think that the NCAA would be much more capable of making a ruling in the summer than making one midseason. Also remember, had he not graduated early to join KU midseason, then this would be his true freshman season. Granted I think that he is already a year older than the average freshman, but still he was projected as a class of 2018 freshman and a 2+ year player.

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

i am also shocked that he is still here..i would have thought when the NCAA said they wouldnt rule until after the season that that would be his cue to leave...even if he does stay, there is no guarantee that the NCAA even lets him play..that Bowen kid sat out all year and the NCAA still refused to let him play this season

Layne Pierce 3 years, 8 months ago

I am not sure we do have enough talent. Look again. They have a chance if they huddle together and decide to play hard, smart, and really as a team, and do all the little things the coaches have been after them to do.

You can bet that now, all the slack is gone, anyone who does not buy in, is not gonna get a lot of playing time from here on out. We may have to play slower, we may have to play ugly, and we may have to hang our hat on our defense, we don't have the shooters to be like last year's team, and Lawson is not comfortable sharing the post with someone else, and anyway teams are just going to surround him and dare other people to shoot. Vick is inconsistent, but he's the only consistent 3 shooter we have, unless Grimes suddenly gets hot.

I think that the NCAA should have to make a decision on a player 30 days after an inquiry begins. What recourse does a player have, if in the end, they say well, we guess you are ok. Does he get another year of eligibility, can he sue?

It's not right!!!


Jerry Walker 3 years, 8 months ago

" Vick is inconsistent, but he's the only consistent 3 shooter we have" -- Layne

That's the enigma of KU's mystery man. Will he or won't he...does he doesn't he?

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

@Layne..this KU team is still stacked with talent..that 2013 team may have been Self least talented team and he still had them winning 30 games with a Sweet 16 appearance..they shot themselves in the foot with 24 TO..not to mention they practiced for the game expecting Dok to play only to find out before then game that he was out..they didnt have time to adjust

Adam Bengtson 3 years, 8 months ago

Because I refuse to read (ha) does anyone know or can someone just tell me the status of this process? Is it actually under review by NCAA? Or is Kansas waiting for NCAA to even look at it? I really don’t know and was just curious where it is even at in the evaluation process.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 8 months ago

Preston was never going to play a game after it was learned (information was unearthed by others) that his mother took money for him to play at KU. Self knew that he would never be reinstated and kept him around as a practice player. Preston’s decision to go pro allowed both KU and the NCAA from making public the reason he would not be reinstated. However, the stuff hit the fan when details of the pay for play scheme came to light this summer. There is also public court testimony that De Sousa’s guardian received money from both a Maryland booster and then Adidas “on behalf of KU”. The NCAA has stated that no decision regarding players, coaches, and universities involved in this worse kept secret will be made until after the current season. De Sousa clearly helped save KU’s season last year by recommitting and enrolling at KU in the second season. He was cleared by the NCAA - based on academics, etc. But now information about receiving money (indirectly via guardian) has been made public, thus putting his amateurism in question. De Sousa would be an extremely helpful addition to a now depleted front line (he is by far the most athletic big man on the team) but if is hard to imaging the NCAA will make a decision to clear/reinstate him this season. The NCAA has a now public mess on their hands. How they rule regarding a “blue blood program”, i.e., KU (procrastination/never making a public decision has been their approach to hide the dirty secrets that the top high school recruits receive money from apparel companies on behalf of the top programs) regarding pay for play starting at the AAU circuit will effect some of the other universities receiving 100 million dollar contracts from Nike, Adidas, etc. Make no mistake, the NCAA would had loved that the FBI never got involved in unearthing the dirty under belly of college basketball recruiting, but now the scheme has been made public and how they rule regarding KU will effect the NCAA’s golden children, Duke, UNC, Kentucky, etc. I feel bad for De Sousa if he was not aware of what his guardian was doing and got caught up indirectly in this mess. Preston was obviously complicit given his mom took the money to help buy a car, etc, but it is not clear if De Sousa knew what was really going on behind close doors. Self has surprisingly made statements suggesting De Sousa could still play this season. Not sure if that is wishful thinking or that Self has knowledge that the NCAA will make a favorable ruling sometime this season regarding De Sousa’s eligibility and in turn other top players who have received money since high school to play ball at certain college programs.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 8 months ago

The NCAA has more than just a turd floating in the punch bowl. Their imperious behavior of handling player eligibility issues is about to come home to roost in their own hen house.

How's that? As the saying goes, "follow the money". With the millions of dollars that has been permeating the recruiting/eligibility issues of high school athletes for should come as no surprise to find NCAA staffers/investigators who have dipped into this money pit to influence their decisions in a sub rosa manner.

That's the sword of domocles hanging over the whole, rotten NCAA.

Bee Bee 3 years, 8 months ago

I sleep better knowing the F B I is hunting down sneaker salesman and college coaches. Well done, F B I.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 8 months ago

reading this article, the question I have is did KU declare him ineligible and submit a request for the NCAA to clear him, or are we doing this fuzzy..."holding him out of games" whatever that means?

Matt Tait 3 years, 8 months ago

You're spot on, Barry. Inquired with KU officials this morning about that very question and am hoping to get an answer sometime soon. It's really the key piece of information that is needed in terms of the De Sousa timeline.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Matt. It does appear that the NCAA refers inquiries to KU and KU sort of indicates it is waiting on the NCAA to review. My best guess is that neither the NCAA nor KU know for certain whether or not De Sousa/Guardian got money beyond the 2,500 for classes and that makes it difficult/risky for them to issue a final decision/ both side are punting until the upcoming trials to see if either of those disclose some facts. A big mess for sure.

Michael Maris 3 years, 8 months ago

Emily James makes it sound like the Kansas Athletic's Department has not submitted any paperwork to the NCAA Offices for review and approval or denial. And, great job (LJW Sports Staff) for asking that specific question. This nonsense of being left in the dark about "the process playing out" is getting old. Additionally, there's an Assistant Coach who probably still needs to answer some questions (as well).

Matt Tait 3 years, 8 months ago

To be fair, I don't think you should read into that that Emily James is making it sound that way. The question I posed to her was about the process in general. And she told me what goes into it.

It's up to KU to answer whether they've submitted a request to the NCAA and we've asked them.

One other thing to keep in mind is that they also do not have to tell us.

Fun stuff!

Michael Maris 3 years, 8 months ago


I'm assuming that you referring to "they" as being the Kansas Athletic Dept? If so, they may not have to tell the LJW Sports Staff or any other Sports Media outlet anything. But, it sure does not look good if they continue to stay silent. To my knowledge, KU Athletic Dept. has no future pending litigation / trial. So, the fact that they take the attitude that they don't have to answer for their actions, seems like an entitlement attitude that needs to be rectified.

I guess Sean Miller is a fine example of how the system works. Because, he's been caught red-handed on his recruiting tactics. And, he's still coaching didn't lose his job and life is good. Zion Williamson's situation seems to be exactly the same. There's NO repercussion for the ACC, PAC, B!G, SEC, Texas or Oklahoma. But, the rest, you all better walk a straight line and don't get caught. Pure Bull$41T.

Tim Orel 3 years, 8 months ago

Has the LJW sued to force compliance with the open record laws under which you filed your FOIA's? IIRC, the LJW filed those and KU said they didn't have to respond to requests for documents. I don't recall if Nyah! Nyah! was just in my imagination or not.

Nick Kramer 3 years, 8 months ago

Just wanted to recognize Andy for the best summation of the situation that I've read so far. Echoing Barry's question - Has KU stated whether or not they have submitted the request? Final question - Are there permissible reasons for members of a coaching staff to ever discuss a current or prospective player with an equipment company (other than please send a new pair of size 12s and an extra large shirt in blue)?

Matt Tait 3 years, 8 months ago

We've got that question into the KU administration and are waiting on some kind of response.

That's the key piece in all of this, at least in terms of the timeline.

Jason Venable 3 years, 8 months ago

My hope is that KU doesn't have anymore "issues"...eligibility, health, money, with future recruits. Seems like its been going on a few seasons now.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 8 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] I think that Silvio playing this season is off the table. What we will have to settle for hopefully from the NCAA is no forfeitures or penalties. I am afraid that is the best we can expect to receive.

2] This team will have to grow up fast with potentially three freshman starters. At least that will look good to any remaining 5 stars out there.

3] I asked the question the other day if Dok had played more games than he missed....I got my answer this morning.

4] Dotson, not Vick or Lawson, is now the key to this season. Fair or not, he is now the pivot point for the direction that this team will take. Gosh, I hope he's ready.

5] Maybe Bill should install a "no dunking" policy in practice from now on!

6] Hawks..listen carefully. What you hear is nine schools writing off KU. Regroup, focus and make them all PAY!!!!!!!.

Justin Carlson 3 years, 8 months ago

I too have feelings De Sousa will never put on a KU uniform. Personally it is only a short matter of time before he takes the Billy Preston route and heads out of town to prepare for the draft. My concern now is who we have and that is who we should focus on and boy we should be concerned! Vick our lone senior is not a leader, in fact, he may be the worst possible leader to have. Not vocal, not setting a good example for younger players on and off the court. Pouting, disappearing in games, 7 turnovers in a limited role. But he is the best 3 pt. threat so he has to play. How does BS create a lead by example 4 year player that has never showed the ability to lead? Take out Vick we are shooting 29% from 3. Insert Vick that is not motivated or focused we are in trouble.
D Lawson - he will find a way to get a double/double hopefully stays out of foul trouble and healthy. D Dotson - will improve and develop into a 2nd team maybe 1st team all conference pt guard, but will face some 20 + year old guards in this league that will show his youth. Q Grimes - on an up tick but could have another bad stretch of no defense or miss a few shots and disappear again. M Garrett - great defender can drive a little but whoever is guarding him will sag off and mess up the flow for drives and mess with lawson in the post. Can not shoot anything but a layup. 18% from 3, come on. C Moore - loose cannon shows glimpses of being a great backup but always comes in and jacks up a shot 3 secs after he checks or misses defensive assignments/switches etc.
M Lightfoot - In all the years I have been watching KU basketball (since D Mannings Freshman year) I have never seen a coach have a quicker hook on a player in my life. Mitch's uniform could be tucked in wrong and he is getting yelled at and sat on the bench. Had NEVER been able to play through any mistakes his entire career. What is scary he may never be allowed to. D McCormack - love his motor game needs to slow down for him but I hope BS doesn't Lightfoot his playing time this year he needs playing time Bill! KJ Lawson - A guy that may never be a factor in a KU uniform. Size is an issue not big enough to guard a post up 4/5 and not quick enough to defend the 1 2 or 3. I don't see anything more than a player that is a career 7, 8, 9 off the bench 10 minutes a game guy. O Agbaji - BS may be regretting redshirting this young man. Would have been curious to see his development. Taking Moore's minutes 5'10 vs 6'5" Ochai how would this team look then. May have found a player. But will have to wait and see.
I know I am harsh on the players esp. Vick but if not for a couple hot shooting nights from Vick we are easily be 8 - 6. Can the team plan on 30 pt Vick or even 15pt Vick. If we get 0 - 6pt Vick we are in trouble.
If Bill Self wins 15 straight with this team....Start building the Statue March 10!!

Brian Leslie 3 years, 8 months ago

KJ is taller and bigger than Garrett, and he averaged 12 & 8 in the AAC as conference newcomer of the year playing exclusively as a PF. He has showed signs of being a plus-rebounder. I would guess he (or his dad) told the staff he wants to play on the perimeter to improve his NBA prospects. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him moved inside next to Dedric for 10 to 15. Maybe Self promised the dad to leave him on the perimeter, but the dad will see the situation and change his mind.

Stuart Corder 3 years, 8 months ago

My question - what’s taking so long? It’s been multiple months. Lets get the politics out of this and give the kid some guidance. Either he gets to play or he doesn’t.

From the tone of this article, I’m not sure wether to be more frustrated with KU or the NCAA?

Silvio - I apologize. “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right”, here he is, stuck in the middle with us fans.

A young kid is chasing a dream and opportunity in the “land of the free”. <—— maybe he should go back to Angola where he can get rewarded for his skill and ability.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 8 months ago

We know how this plays out. Self gives us positive updates but nothing ever happens. I hate it, but his dude isn't playing this year. What a bummer!

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