Wednesday, June 12, 2019

NCAA set to send notice of major recruiting violations to schools; official confirms NCAA can’t get controversial Townsend wiretap

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. What some call the sleezy side of college basketball recruiting will be on display at a criminal trial starting Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

FILE - In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. What some call the sleezy side of college basketball recruiting will be on display at a criminal trial starting Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)


The NCAA won't be able to get its hands on one of the most intriguing wiretaps obtained by the FBI in an investigation of basketball recruiting violations involving the University of Kansas, according to a CBS Sports report.

But KU may soon face a reckoning with the NCAA anyway. CBS Sports reported on Wednesday that the NCAA will deliver Notices of Allegations — the NCAA's equivalent of an indictment — to at least six college basketball programs this summer. The allegations will be for Level 1 violations, which are deemed the most serious and can include penalties such as scholarship reductions and postseason bans.

The NCAA official did not reveal the identities of the six schools, but said two "high profile" programs would receive notices of allegations by early July. The other four programs should expect notices by the end of the summer, and the NCAA official said other cases are still in the works. It already has been reported that KU is under investigation by the NCAA.

Stan Wilcox, NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs, told CBS Sports that the NCAA had been asked to hold off on taking action on recruiting violations until federal fraud trials in the matter were completed. Now that those trials are done, schools should expect action soon, Wilcox said.

"So now that it's over, we're going to be moving forward with a number of Level 1 cases that will help people realize that 'Yeah, the enforcement staff was in a position to move forward," Wilcox said. "There's even another group of cases that we are still working on. The main thing is we're up and ready. We're moving forward and you'll see consequences."

During the CBS Sports interview, Wilcox did mention KU specifically. He confirmed that the NCAA was unable to obtain a wiretap the FBI has of assistant KU basketball coach Kurtis Townsend and an Adidas representative talking about the role money or other inducements might play in landing prized recruit Zion Williamson.

Wilcox said because the Townsend wiretap was not admitted as evidence in the trial, the NCAA could not obtain the wiretap and can only ask Townsend about it during its investigation into KU. Although the recording was discussed in court, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan did not allow it to be entered as evidence for procedural reasons.

"Any wiretap that was introduced into evidence [we can use]," Wilcox said, according to the report. "It wasn't. That was leaked. We don't have access to that.

"We can use the information that was put in the media but … we would take that information and when we sit down and talk with the coach we would use that as [a talking point]."

A representative for KU Athletics did not immediately respond to the Journal-World’s request for comment.

The phone conversation between Townsend and former amateur coach and Adidas representative Merl Code was brought up by Mark Moore, an attorney for Code, to try to get it admitted as evidence to support his client. In a tapped phone call in which the two were discussing the recruitment of Williamson, Townsend said, “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 said, “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.”

In reply, 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 here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

Whether the “opportunities” were for Williamson or a family member is not clear. Williamson took a recruiting visit to KU, but committed to Duke to play basketball. He is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft later this month.

Kaplan said the wiretap wasn’t relevant to the case because the conversation happened after the crimes of which Code was accused.

However, some wiretaps or text messages in the trial could be used by the NCAA for its investigation into KU, since they were admitted into evidence. The NCAA opened its investigation of KU after the trial revealed KU coach Bill Self’s relationship with former Adidas consultant Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola.

Gassnola testified that he paid the families of players to steer them to KU, including $90,000 to the mother of former KU player Billy Preston and $2,500 to the guardian of current KU player Silvio De Sousa.

In text messages used as evidence in the trial, Gassnola and Self appeared to discuss the recruitment of De Sousa. But Gassnola testified that he never told Self about the payments.

After the trial, Kaplan sentenced Adidas executive James Gatto to nine months in prison and business manager Christian Dawkins and Code to six months in prison for fraud convictions related to their admitted effort to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits, luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas, including KU.

The NCAA also suspended De Sousa for two seasons because of his involvement in the scandal. When KU appealed the suspension, the university considered Gassnola a “booster,” which may be used against the program when the NCAA considers recruiting violations. Universities generally are held liable for any violations committed by their boosters.

But KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said that KU was considering Gassnola a booster “only as a hypothetical for the purposes of reinstatement.” William H. Brooks, an NCAA rules expert, previously told the Journal-World that KU can change its opinion on Gassnola’s relationship to the university because the cases are heard by different NCAA committees. Ultimately, it will be up to NCAA officials on whether Gassnola is ruled a booster of the program.

After the appeal, the NCAA reduced De Sousa’s suspension to one season, which he served during the 2018-19 season.


Ray Winger 3 years, 2 months ago

When he alluded to 'oppertunities and finding a way', I thought he was referring to finding Zion a Job.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 2 months ago

Well, let's see, the NCAA tells KU they will not even consider Silvio's appeal unless KU admits Gassnola is a booster, then they tell KU they could put him down as a booster, just hypothetically, to get them to review the case.... then they gig Silvio and now possibly KU because of what this "booster" did? Really?

Isn't that the definition of "entrapment," which is patently illegal? Here is a definition of entrapment by Merriam-Webster.

"the action of tricking someone into committing a crime in order to secure their prosecution."

Mike Hart 3 years, 2 months ago

Far cry to consider Gassnola a booster??? Let's see per the above link: NCAA considers anyone a booster who "Arranged for or provided employment for enrolled student-athletes"... "ASSISTED OR HAS BEEN REQUESTED BY UNIVERSITY STAFF TO ASSIST IN THE RECRUITMENT OF PROSPECTIVE STUDENT-ATHLETE"... "ASSISTED IN PROVIDING BENEFITS TO ENROLLED STUDENT ATHLETES OR THEIR FAMILIES".

Mind you, Gassnola has already admitted he paid $89K to Billy Preston's mother, there are transcripts to which he has admitted facilitating an Adidas gear deal for Angolan National team on behalf of Fenny Falmagne, etc. Not a reach for the NCAA to consider him a booster based on his actions to steer people to KU... and that is irrelevant as to whether the coaching staff knew about it or not.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 2 months ago

There was an article here a while ago that said the NCAA required KU to identify him as a booster in order to even consider Silvio's case.

Sort of like extortion.

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

It wasnt sort of extortion it is extortion..more like entrapment..requiring KU to admit to something that they don't think is true just to consider another situation seems illegal..if the NCAA considered him a booster KU should sue

Dane Pratt 3 years, 2 months ago

If the potential violations revolve only around Silvio and Preston I would not be overly concerned but the Zion Williamson recruitment at the very least shows intent. Whether we acted on that intent or not is another issue.

Stuart Corder 3 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps that last remaining scholarship is by design.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 2 months ago

Dollar Bill, DUI Howard and Dirty Kurty. It's quite a collection. They can soon all say that they accomplished at KU the same things Larry Brown did. And, who knows, maybe Self will also end up in San Antonio after screwing the U.

Daniel Parker 3 years, 2 months ago

clearly there was no lifeguard at the gene pool on your special day.

Mike Hart 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't find myself in this situation often, but I am defending McCabe, because unlike most: He isn't looking at this with rose-colored glasses. He isn't letting his allegiance to KU athletics stand in the way of recognizing that KU was complicit in some impropriety. KU is not a victim here. No one (NCAA, media or if you take the KU chancellor's word for it).. .has supposedly spoken to Townsend about any of his text messages. Really? If you believe there haven't been internal discussions and that everyone in the KU hierarchy is fully briefed and understanding of what transpired... then you aren't keeping it real. The point is: No sense in the derogatory commentary toward McCabe the "gene pool" crack because he cuts through the crap when it comes to the feigned indignation people are expressing about how KU's program is supposedly squeaky clean... and that we are being victimized by the NCAA. That's a farce.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't disagree with him either but I suspect it's his tone of voice that most people object to. I don't think we are as dirty as he thinks but to believe we are a clean program is naive. That said, I hope we walk away from this without any penalties and college basketball which is inherently dirty is able to put some safeguards in place to prevent this from happening again.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 2 months ago

Mike - "Gene pool" is not a "derogatory comment toward Brett". It is blowback. Sort of like when a shot is fired at an object and some of the impact splatters back on the source of the shot. It's not about rose colored glasses. It is about being supportive regardless of fault vs. negative attacks that might even be based on some shred of truth magnified and extorted to the n-th degree.

It is an old pattern that goes back years that seems to be rooted in Brett's angst over the many, many times when he has quit on the various KU teams only to be proven wrong by their perseverance. This recruiting class is just the latest example of him quitting and proven wrong when the players and coaches persevere and prevail.

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

I think KU is one of those 6 schools but I don't think they are the top 2..I think LSU and AZ are way more implicated than KU

William Dostert 3 years, 2 months ago

I think we might be ok. We held back the players involved and supposedly we did not directly pay anyone.

Stuart Corder 3 years, 2 months ago

Robert Brock is right.

The CBS sports article points out that there are 6 schools in trouble. Four schools had assistant coaches actually convicted of bribery.

  • Ok State
  • Auburn
  • Arizona
  • USC

Louisville was already on probation when they were caught attempting to facilitate money to a player.

LSU’s head coach recently had a sit down with the NCAA and LSU university involving his freshman phenom.

All I’ve seen against KU is Billy Preston - whom was withheld from play by KU, Silvio De Sousa whom was granted his appeal, and rumors of an audio recording that can’t be used as evidence by the FBI or the NCAA.

Jeff Kallmeyer 3 years, 2 months ago

I fear the Gassnola being considered a booster is going to haunt us.

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

I think the NCAA entrapped KU in that situation..why make a school "hypothetically" admit to something just to even consider another situation ???

Bill Kackley 3 years, 2 months ago

It would not hurt my feelings if I never had to read another post by Brett McCabe. He is a slimy weasel.

Daniel Parker 3 years, 2 months ago

why would you belittle weasels like that?

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 3 years, 2 months ago

I would guess the two high profile schools would be Arizona and LSU.

Keith Gellar 3 years, 2 months ago

Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.

Creg Bohrer 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm guessing that the NCAA is glad the so called tape of Townsend can't be used. That might implicate Duke and Williamson as well.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 2 months ago

They can still use it they just can't obtain the actual wiretap.

Jeff Kallmeyer 3 years, 2 months ago

"Stan Wilcox, NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs, told CBS Sports that the NCAA had been asked to hold off on taking action on recruiting violations until federal fraud trials in the matter were completed. Now that those trials are done, schools should expect action soon, Wilcox said."

I didn't know the FBI trials involving Nike and UA were complete? If so, where's all the hoopla like what Adidas received? Is squeaky clean (sarcasm font) Duke getting off the hook again? Has anyone heard any news/leaks about Nike and UA?

Barry Weiss 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm not jumping to any conclusions here. We may get dinged, we may not. If we do, I don't think it will be too severe. I can't see any post season bans.

Ron Yates 3 years, 2 months ago

If schools that recruit athletes were penalized for the things they promise potential recruits and their parents then every NCAA Div 1 school in the country would be on probation. The question is how many follow through with those promises and how many are actually violations of NCAA protocol and rules? At some point, we need to end the myth that college athletics and athletes fall into the amateur category and just pay these kids for bringing millions of dollars into university coffers. The whole system is disingenuous and needs to be overhauled.

Dan Burns 3 years, 2 months ago

Ron, you are on point however I don't see any overhaul... ever. There will be some slapping of the hands of notable schools with the possible exception of Duke and UK, the NCAA will pat themselves on the back for a good job and everything will continue as before.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 2 months ago

Mu guess is, worst case scenario, we lose a scholarship accompanied by a wrist slapping. I doubt seriously that KU gets a post game one puts fannies in the seats like Jayhawk Nation and, if nothing else, the NCAA is all about the money.

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

In this case, I hope KU can use its blue blood status to get off easy lol..other fan bases will be upset of course..but they will get over it lol

Steve Hillyer 3 years, 2 months ago

There's no question we are one of the two "high profile" schools, the other being either Louisville or Arizona, my guess is Louisville. The NCAA also said it was about eligibilty issues which we have had plenty of over the years and Louisville, though Arizona is being looked at for the Ayton recruitment I don't think there was any eligilbity concerns which i never understood why. Anyway I see us vacating victories that Silvio played in, losing a scholarship or two and that is about it, if NCAA really wants to look like they mean business I can see Self or Townsend being suspended for a few games but I find that highly unlikely. No question the college athletics is dirty, this is nothing new and has been going on forever, no one is "squeaky clean" however KU seems to be more willing to jump in the gutter than maybe some other schools. Now fire away at me

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't say KU is more willing to "jump on the fire"..I think those other programs are sponsored by a shoe company who isn't as sloppy as Adidas and do a better job of hiding their,it isn't like KU was recruiting kids they knew could have eligibility issues...

Joe Black 3 years, 2 months ago

No reason to "fire away". You just made a statement that you have no facts to back. It is just pure speculation just like all the posts going the other way. You don't know who the two schools are.

Danny Hernandez 3 years, 2 months ago

No matter how many times I read the Townsend transcript, it can be interpreted anyway one wants it to. And if that is what it would take to get Zion, how much did Duke pay? I heard from many in the AAU circuit, he was shopping himself

Keith Gellar 3 years, 2 months ago

Lets give the whole "Well Duke paid to get Zion..." bit a rest. We get it - all programs are dirty, but we got caught. There is no point telling the police officer "but look at all the other cars that are speeding" when you get pulled over. You broke the law, got caught so now just deal with it. Quit playing the victim card.

Stuart Corder 3 years, 2 months ago

Sean Miller (Arizona) and Will Wade (LSU) were the two head coaches subpoenaed by the FBI. Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson arrested.

Rick Pitino (Louisville) insinuated that Adidas had paid Romeo Langford to go to (Indiana).

(Maryland) basketball was also subpoenaed because if the money they paid for Silvio.

Ok State/South Carolina - LaMont Evans fired/arrested.

Auburn - assistant Chuck Person arrested.

USC - Tony Bland fired/arrested.

UCONN - assistant caught on tape by FBI & fired, not charged. Was @ the taped meeting that got all the people charged. Fired, not arrested.

TCU - Assistant Corey barker was paid by Dawkins. TCU “internal review” pending.

Creighton - assistant coach paid by Dawkins.

Clemson - Assistant Coach Steve Smith caught in FBI recording used in court.

Duke - “internal review” following Nike claims by Avenatti,

UNC - forged grades recently, and text messages and comments made by Roy Williams and others popped up in trial.

Freddie Garza 3 years, 2 months ago

ALTERNATE HEADLINE: SIX schools will take the fall for widespread NCAA corruption and hypocrisy that extends WELL beyond "just" six schools. Meanwhile, the most corrupt organization in American sports (the NCAA) gets off scot free. Again.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 2 months ago

I would say they are inept and content with the status quo of college sports but I would not go so far as saying they are corrupt. If you want to see what corruption in an athletic governing body looks like check out FIFA.

Mark Wooden 3 years, 2 months ago

We all know what was said on the wiretap. You are not breaking any news about it just being ignorant. Comparing anything to other programs is ignorant as each one is investigated by the facts presented. Been a long time coming for KU with how the embracement of the one and done professional system is set. RCJH KU

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

KU didn't commit to the OAD system..most of the kids they recruit don't leave after 1 season

Mike Hart 3 years, 2 months ago

Freddie Garza: “THe NCAA gets off scot free again”. Uh.. what exactly was their crime? You can dislike the NCAA all you want, but what do you expect them to be found guilty of doing? They aren’t paying college recruits to attend certain schools

Dale Stringer 3 years, 2 months ago

There is not a thing wrong with what was said in the wiretap. For all anyone knows, Townsend was going to mail a few pamphlets from Adecco, Express Employment Professionals and a few apartment complexes.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 2 months ago

Dane - I think for you’re focusing on the sarcasm as if it were the point. The point is no one knows not any sarcastic speculation on what was being sent or provided.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 1 month ago

This country loves laws, lawyers, regulations, and litigation.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.