The Big 12 announced suspensions Wednesday evening for four players involved in the brawl that marred Tuesday’s Sunflower Showdown between Kansas and Kansas State.
KU backup forward Silvio De Sousa received the most severe punishment, as the conference suspended him for 12 games. Additionally, the Big 12 suspended KU starter David McCormack for two games.
On the other side of the rivalry, the Wildcats’ James Love III, who wasn’t even suited up for the game, was suspended for eight games, and Antonio Gordon will have to sit out for three.
The conference’s rulings came a little more than five hours after KU head coach Bill Self announced the indefinite suspension of De Sousa, pending the “final outcome of the review” by KU and conference officials.
After De Sousa threw punches at K-State players and even hoisted a stool above his head during the skirmish, Self stated Wednesday night he, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and Athletic Director Jeff Long “fully support” the Big 12’s decision, and appreciated league officials working through the situation with them.
“Like I said (Tuesday) night, I am disappointed and embarrassed by what transpired, because there is no place for that type of behavior in any competition,” Self said. “After meeting with my team and discussing the incident in detail, it is evident that everyone fully understands the magnitude of their actions and all are remorseful for what occurred. We represent the University of Kansas and will all learn from this experience moving forward.”
Shortly after Self issued his statement, De Sousa posted one of his own to Twitter.
It read, in part: “I displayed highly unacceptable behavior that was a poor representation of my team as well as my own character. There is no excuse for my behavior, and I cannot justify the unreasonable choices that I made (Tuesday) on the court. I not only showed a lack of sportsmanship, but I put myself, my teammates and the fans in danger.”
De Sousa added he was “truly embarrassed” by his actions, which let people down.
“I understand that I am extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play for KU,” the statement continued, “and I recognize that I never should have let my emotions get the best of me, but unfortunately that is what happened. By doing so, I put the Kansas reputation at stake because of a moment of weakness and inconsideration.”
De Sousa also expressed his gratefulness for the support KU gave him when he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and missed a full season before being reinstated.
“I messed up and I am sorry,” his note concluded.
The Big 12 issued a reprimand to both schools for violations of the league’s sportsmanship policies after both KU and K-State players left the bench during the fight.
“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in the Big 12's statement. “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”
With the Big 12’s ruling, De Sousa would not be able to return to the lineup until KU’s regular-season finale, on March 7 at Texas Tech, meaning he won’t take part in the rivalry game rematch in Manhattan on Feb. 29.
McCormack will miss KU’s home game against Tennessee on Saturday, as well as a Monday road date at Oklahoma State.
Dan Beckler, KU’s associate athletic director for public relations, told the Journal-World Big 12 rules state that both suspensions will begin immediately. The suspensions prohibit student-athletes from traveling with the team to away games, participating in pregame activities and being in the team’s bench area. However, the suspended players may continue to practice and receive related support incidental to their participation.
Before the punishments were announced, one video that surfaced on social media late Tuesday night showed how the altercation escalated after De Sousa blocked DaJuan Gordon’s layup attempt and stood over the K-State guard in the game’s final seconds — an action that eventually resulted in a technical foul for taunting.
The footage recorded from the student section on the south end of the fieldhouse by attendee Cameron Collins shows Antonio Gordon shoving De Sousa to the floor. De Sousa responds by coming up swinging in the direction of the Wildcats’ David Sloan. The video then shows De Sousa and Love going after each other as players and coaches from both programs rush in.
Asked during a previously scheduled Wednesday morning teleconference about how the fight started, Self said his opinion on how it began didn’t matter.
“The bottom line is that in competition, and obviously it’s heated, some things can escalate sometimes, and you never, ever want that. This was not part of that. This was not part of heated competition,” Self said of the fight, which broke out in the final seconds of a game that wasn’t close.
“We’ll accept responsibility for the role in which we played — and obviously we did play a role. I'm not saying that K-State was innocent in this by any stretch, but I am saying I'm only going to comment on on our situation,” Self went on, reiterating he wouldn’t offer any of his thoughts about K-State players who were involved. “I’m not saying they're guilty. I'm just saying I want to comment on our situation, and what I can potentially have influence on, and that would be the actions of our guys. Regardless of what has transpired, always having discipline and keeping a cool head and being responsible and being unselfish. And certainly that did not occur (Tuesday) night within our group.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber, who also fielded questions about the fight during his time slot of the Big 12 teleconference, said he was “very, very saddened” by the scene.
“Obviously there's many people to blame, and I'm the head of our program. So it falls back on me that the incident occurred," Weber said. "It's a shame. It shouldn't have happened."
K-State’s coach said his players told him after the fight that they thought time had run out and the game was over when they left the bench.
Both teams left the floor once the fight was broken up and went to their respective locker rooms before the officiating crew brought them back to the court to play one last second.
No. 3 KU (15-3 overall, 5-1 Big 12) plays host to Tennessee (12-6, 4-2 SEC) for the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.