Thursday, March 5, 2020

If appeal fails, KU could be facing postseason ban, coaching suspensions, other penalties

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets the attention of his players late during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets the attention of his players late during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


A lot is riding on the University of Kansas' 149-page, often blistering, denunciation of the NCAA allegations against the school’s vaunted basketball program.

If KU’s appeal ultimately fails, the men’s basketball program could be facing a postseason ban — beginning next season — that would end the school’s soon-to-be record 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament. Hall of Fame coach Bill Self could face a major derailment of his career by being hit with a show-cause penalty — essentially a suspension from the college game. And the team might have to vacate some of its victories from the 2018 Final Four season because of current player Silvio De Sousa playing while ineligible.

KU's response to NCAA notice of allegations

On Thursday, March 5, 2020, the University of Kansas made public its response to the NCAA's notice of allegations against the men's basketball program that came in the wake of a federal trial over corruption in college basketball recruiting.

Here is the landing page for KU's response, which includes a variety of PDF documents and an overview of KU's argument.

The university and its legal team at the Overland Park-based law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King made several key arguments demonstrating how it plans to fight serious allegations of misconduct within the men’s basketball program, arguing the NCAA is misinterpreting rules and improperly using evidence from a fraud trial, among other arguments.

The effectiveness of the arguments made Thursday as they relate to KU — by far the most high-profile program implicated in the 2017 Adidas scandal that rocked the sport of college basketball — remains to be seen.

KU fans, though, may want to watch a similar case that is unfolding at North Carolina State University. The case alleges the same Adidas representative at the center of the KU scandal — T.J. Gassnola — funneled money to the father of high-profile prospect Dennis Smith Jr. with knowledge and consent from former coach Mark Gottfried. Smith has denied receiving any payment during his recruitment.

N.C. State is further along in the appeal process than KU. It filed its response to the NCAA months ago, and the NCAA in early February filed its response to N.C. State’s response. The NCAA’s enforcement staff was not persuaded by the arguments made by the N.C. State attorneys, who are from the same firm that's representing KU.

NCAA Enforcement staff vehemently disagreed with the case the Bond, Schoeneck & King firm laid out. In particular, the NCAA forcefully argued that it could use evidence from the federal fraud trial as sufficient corroborating evidence to justify sanctioning N.C. State.

Kansas City-based sports law attorney Mit Winter told the Journal-World that the issue of whether the trial evidence can be used against the schools will be the key aspect to watch in these cases moving forward.

The NCAA adopted a bylaw in 2018 that allowed evidence previously introduced in court to be included in its enforcement process and infractions decisions, as long as the facts are established by a decision or judgment and are not under appeal.

But that bylaw hasn’t yet been put to use to justify actual sanctions against programs accused of facilitating payments to players during the recruitment process. Winter said it’s smart for the schools to argue that the NCAA Committee on Infractions — which issues punishments — shouldn’t place much consideration on evidence from the criminal trial.

“These are the first cases where this new bylaw is really being put to the test,” Winter told the Journal-World in an interview Wednesday. “KU is going to argue the hearing panel shouldn’t rely very heavily on information that came out during trials.”

While both sides in the N.C. State case have made their arguments, the university is still awaiting a final ruling from the NCAA. It likely will come before KU receives its ruling in the summer or early fall. While the case is worth watching, Winter also cautions that predicting NCAA rulings can be difficult. The NCAA rarely relies on precedent from one case to another when it issues punishments, he said.

“They have prior cases that are similar to current cases — whether it’s KU or one of the other cases — but just because they did something in one case two years ago doesn’t mean they’ll reach the same decision now,” he said.

— Journal-World editor Chad Lawhorn contributed to this report.


Dale Rogers 2 years, 8 months ago

"The NCAA adopted a bylaw in 2018 that allowed evidence previously introduced in court to be included in its enforcement process and infractions decisions, as long as the facts are established by a decision or judgment and are not under appeal."

The jury decided the universities and coaches were unaware of the payments and therefore the Adidas defendants were guilty of defrauding the universities. So how on earth can the NCAA perceive "as long as the facts are established by a decision or judgment and are not under appearl" to mean they were in fact aware of the payments?

Also, the headline of this article mentions what happens if the appeal fails. It's not an appeal until after the NCAA hands down punishment. We're not even close to that point yet. So it's not an appeal. Not yet.

clint moran 2 years, 8 months ago

If I'm thinking on the right track, "lack of institutional control" is often a case of infractions that may not be known by coaching staff or anyone closely associated with the school. It's like, "You may not have known, but you should have known" as if to say the university's compliance department was not as diligent in it's research regarding the amateurism status of a student athlete.

What really bothers me about this case, is the fact that the KU compliance department, after clearing Silvio to play, turned the case over to the NCAA for them to clear him as well. I'm certain we all remember how long that took. Remember #freeSilvio? I do. We were told this was a tough case because this was an international player and it takes longer for the NCAA to investigate their amateurism status. Finally, Silvio was cleared by the NCAA and played from mid January until the FF loss to Villanova.

Why is it that the NCAA can spend several weeks investigating the amateurism status of a student athlete, find nothing, and clear him to play... then punish a University for investigating the amateurism status of the SAME student athlete, finding nothing, and clearing him to play? Is the university supposed to have resources that the NCAA doesn't have? Is the FBI supposed to open wire taps and intercept text messages and emails during the recruitment of every prospect from this case forward? Obviously not, but it would seem like the only way this would be avoided in the future.

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 8 months ago

If memory serves me right, KU appealed the decision on Silvio, and heard crickets for weeks until they were informed that the NCAA would not even look at the paperwork until KU declared Gassnola a booster. Basically they compelled the University to make a false statement (IMHO), in order to do the right thing here.

I along with everyone else on the board apparently believes this is going to go to court before it's all over. This reminds me of overzealous City DA's who prosecute a case with all their might despite overwhelming evidence that the case doesn't have merit, or vice versa.

clint moran 2 years, 8 months ago

Absolutely. To clarify I was referring to "#freeSilvio part 1", lol. The original eligibility screening that the NCAA drug their feet on, as he was a mid-season recruit graduating early to go to college sooner.

As for the reinstatement after the suspension, your statement about the NCAA demands are accurate as I remember them. It's clear to me now why Jeff Long added the word "hypothetical" when referring to Gassnola as a booster. It was likely known that the NCAA was planning to use that against the university.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 8 months ago

I agree entirely. Plus, the NCAA had public pressure to react and so they are overreacting. I really hope this goes to a court of law but I'm not sure what the charge would be.

Ryan Mullen 2 years, 8 months ago

I hope the University takes this to the Supreme Court.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 8 months ago

I would not expect the corrupt NCAA to rule against us, no matter what the facts are. They are blinded by the absolute desire to bag a trophy program and coach. KU needs to get this case, when the process allows it, into a real court where real evidence matters and not this fluffy stuff the NCAA relies on.

Mike Greer 2 years, 8 months ago

"The NCAA adopted a bylaw in 2018 . . ." Now wasn't that convenient. I find it odd they want to use evidence from a trial of Adidas reps, where they were convicted of defrauding the Universities with which they had contractual agreements to supply equipment. What it sounds like to me, is the NCAA planes to essentially reverse the decision handled down in a court of law, using the same evidence that got the Adidas guys in trouble in the first place. So a kangaroo court is going to essentially throw out the results of a U S Federal court, in order to make the same evidence look like the university is guilty and the Adidas reps were just innocent school boosters?

The NCAA appears to have become one of those organizations that has become so enthralled in its self, that all logic and decisions of other institutions (U. S. Federal court) are immaterial and irrelevant. Like many organizations in the past, they have become so intoxicated on their own power, they no longer function as originally intended.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 8 months ago

Ahh, the end of a 31 year record. Not because of f coaching incompetence. But because of moral failure. Thanks Bill.

Before you get suspended, maybe you could teach Dok a post move?

Jay Hawkinson 2 years, 8 months ago

It seems like KU's case is aimed more at other schools than at the NCAA staff themselves. They know it will be hard to beat these charges on the merits, so the hope is that university presidents at other schools are persuaded by the arguments about the implications and unintended consequences of the NCAA's approach and intervene in the process behind the scenes.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 8 months ago

Silvio’s eligibility case last year shows that the NCAA is really committed to punishing the university for all the things they think were wrong with Clif, Billy, and others that they weren’t able to prove before the players left their dominion. The appeal process reinstating him just underscores the fact. This is no different. There will be an outrageous penalty, appeal, and reduction in the penalty when the process moves out of the portion of the NCAA with the twisted panties. Unfortunately, there will be stories along the way with too many morality comments and other bits of ignorance.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 8 months ago

The sad thing is how the kids, like Silvio, are punished for something they knew nothing about. There has to be a better way.

David Robinett 2 years, 8 months ago

Time to create a new intercollegiate association. Seriously.

Spencer Goff 2 years, 8 months ago

“Rarely relies on precedent...” That sentence alone should tell you all you need to know about the NCAA and college athletics.

Spencer Goff 2 years, 8 months ago

Just make it super expensive to fight this, money is the only thing they value so it will be the last thing they want to give up.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 8 months ago

If several of the schools charged in this could band together into a single lawsuit against the NCAA... and then if other schools not charged would join in the lawsuit...

Dirk Medema 2 years, 8 months ago

Armen - No, that is an ongoing rant. He no longer has Beaty to complain about and believes that that Miles is doing (almost) everything right, so as a to the core complainer he has to create other things to complain about. To his credit, he can be really creative. Comically so if you don’t take him too seriously.

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