Wednesday, May 20, 2020

NCAA source confirms request for KU’s allegations case to be heard by independent panel

The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is pictured, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is pictured, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


The fate of KU’s men’s basketball program — embroiled in serious pay-for-play allegations by the NCAA’s enforcement staff — may be heading for an all-or-nothing moment.

The Journal-World has learned from an NCAA source that the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions wants the University of Kansas’ case to be heard by a new panel, the Independent Accountability Resolutions Process, designed to tackle the most complex cases in college athletics.

But there is a big difference between this new process and the more traditional one: Decisions made by the IARP are final and cannot be appealed.

That could be a big deal for KU and its basketball program because the NCAA has alleged that KU’s violations are so serious that penalties could include postseason bans, vacating wins and conference championships, as well as a long-term suspension of head coach Bill Self.

But the process also may be viewed favorably by KU officials. As its name suggests, the panel is made up of people with no direct ties to the NCAA. That is in contrast to the traditional process that uses an infractions committee that could include athletic directors, university presidents, former coaches and other administrators who are from fellow NCAA schools and conferences.

The new panel draws more heavily from the legal world, including lawyers and former judges.

Whether KU leaders at this point view one process more favorably than the other is unclear. The Journal-World wasn’t able to determine whether KU plans to support or oppose the Committee on Infractions’ request that the case be transferred to the new body.

KU has 20 days from the submission of the referral request to file a response to the request for the case to be transferred to the IARP. After that period, a subpanel of the IARP will make the decision on whether to accept the case.

There is no timeline for when the IARP may make that decision, the Journal-World was told. Once a case is accepted into the IARP, the NCAA no longer has any role in it and will not comment until a ruling has been handed down.

Naima Stevenson Starks, the vice president of hearing operations for the NCAA, told the Journal-World that, in the interest of transparency, the NCAA would announce “a limited public disclosure when a case is accepted into the IARP.”

Such an announcement was made earlier this week regarding the NCAA’s notice of allegations case against North Carolina State University in the fallout from the federal investigation into recruiting corruption in college basketball.

NC State, which received its notice of allegations a few months before Kansas, and Memphis, which is on the IARP track because of a complex matter involving former No. 1 recruit James Wiseman, were the first two schools to enter the IARP path.

According to reports, Memphis requested the IARP path, and NC State agreed to having its case referred there.

Who Serves on the IARP?

The IARP is a new track for infractions cases created in response to recommendations by the Commission on College Basketball. That commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was formed after the sport was rocked by federal fraud charges filed against then-current Adidas representatives who ultimately were convicted of fraud related to a pay-for-play scheme.

KU officials faced no charges in the criminal matter, but the NCAA’s enforcement staff has alleged KU violated multiple NCAA rules because the school either knew or should have known of the pay-for-play scheme or other NCAA violations.

KU has vigorously denied that it had any knowledge or should have known of the actions by employees of Adidas, which KU has a multimillion dollar marketing partnership with.

The 15-member IARP panel consists mostly of lawyers and former judges who work at independent firms and have no direct ties to the NCAA.

All 15 members applied for a spot on the panel and were selected and recommended by the Independent Accountability Oversight Committee, Stevenson Starks said.

The IAOC includes three independent members of the NCAA’s Board of Governors — former Duke and NBA star Grant Hill; Vivek Murthy, the 19th surgeon general of the United States; and Denis McDonough, of the Markle Foundation.

The NCAA Division I board of directors ultimately approved the recommendations of the 15 current panel members: Jodi Balsam, Brooklyn Law School; David Benck, American Arbitration Association; Jeffrey Benz, with the mediation firm JAMS Inc.; Mary Braza, Foley and Lardner LLP; Bernetta Bush, JAMS Inc.; Joan Cronan, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (retired); Javier Flores, Dinsmore and Shohl LLP; Hugh Fraser, JAMS Inc.; Patricia Timmons Goodson, justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina (retired); Corey Jackson, University of California San Francisco; Bruce Meyerson, Bruce Meyerson PLLC; Tracy Porter, Premiere Solutions; Michelle Pujals, Tauterno Consulting LLC; Christina Guerola Sarchio, Dechert LLP; and Dana Welch, Welch ADR.

If a case moves forward, five of those 15 members eventually will be assigned to each IARP case as members of the Independent Resolution Panel.

Stevenson Starks told the Journal-World that, like a sitting judge, a panel member could be assigned to more than one case at a time, meaning it will be difficult to predict which panel members may hear KU’s case.

What’s next for KU?

The next step in KU’s case depends on whether the IARP’s Infractions Referral Committee accepts the request for KU’s case.

If it does, the case is passed along to the IARP’s Complex Case Unit. That unit is a two-part body that includes both an independent investigator and an independent advocate, who work in tandem to gather the facts of the case.

Stevenson Starks told the Journal-World that there were no specific parameters for how long cases could go on before a ruling was made.

Because Memphis and NC State are both at the outset of their IARP endeavors, there also is no precedent to provide even a best guess as to how long the IARP process might last.

A lot of the timeline depends on how much more work the Complex Case Unit believes needs to be done. That work could include further investigation and amendments to the notice of allegations.

In the final step, the IARP then conducts a hearing, decides whether violations occurred and prescribes penalties.

Under the agreed-upon process, KU would have no further NCAA appeals if it disagreed with the findings or the penalties.

The other possibility is that IARP officials decide they don’t want to hear the KU case. In that instance, the KU case would be heard by the traditional NCAA process involving the Committee on Infractions and its members from fellow NCAA schools and conferences.


Michael Leiker 2 years, 1 month ago

KU needs to move the deadline for making decisions on contributions and ticket purchases until after this is complete.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

It won't affect this year.

I'm guessing we will forego the 2020 NCAA tournament as a potential punishment, but I don't think there will be any punishment.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

Uh, the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled. Do you mean the 2021 Tournament?

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

I was trying to take credit for something that was missed. Time served.

Dennis Strick 2 years, 1 month ago

Matt, I always love your stuff but wow, lately you guys are last to the party on KU breaking news. I head about this via espn alert kast night so they get my eyeball attention. Not sure if you guys are just slow, or you ownership group is making you slow. This is potentially the biggest sports story in the history of the university (that's saying something) and the NCAA and you guys need to ge first to the table, not last. If we dont get a favorable outcome from this panel the whole thing will go to federal court which could spell the end of NCAA's grip on Div I sports. Please treat it going forward with that kind of urgency so I can continue to rely on you. Thanks

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

They don't say anything nice about KU, so they had to wait on their source from the NCAA...and we know the NCAA is super slow.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

ESPN broke the story late yesterday but the LJW version is way better.

Eric TheCapn 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Dane. This article stands out as excellent and thorough, and as a journalist myself I'm super picky and often critical. Thanks, Matt.

Matt Gauntt 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure Matt Tait wakes up every day and thinks to himself..."I wonder what I need to do to please Dennis"

Dennis Strick 2 years, 1 month ago

Oh, Michael we are a year plus from a "final" decision on all of this so make your decision based on the known facts of the case and your feelings about all of it instead of a ruling. It's time the NCAA admit and accept that like it or not (and they seem to like it based on the $$$ it brings them) that Div I revenue generating sports are now and will forever be semi-pro. The NCAA needs to step away froyhem Div I and focus just on Div II and Div III. Let

Dennis Strick 2 years, 1 month ago

Let the Power Five Conferences set the rules for Div I sports and their Championships. Mid majors can stay with the big boys or drop down to Div II. Then let's set up regional super conferences around the power five schools and balance them out in football and lead to a true national pllayoff format.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

NCAA wants this heard by an IARP because there is no case.

The NCAA's case is rooted in the interpretation of a corporate sponsor as a booster of the organization. It would then add that KU would have had to known Adidas was paying KU players to come to KU.

FACT: Adidas has never been considered a booster, nor any other apparel company for any university.

FACT: Adidas personnel performing these acts were found guilty of hiding these from KU.

FACT: KU was found in the court of law a victim of Adidas personnel.

FACT: KU benched every player that was paid by these attempts.

FACT: NCAA cleared every player that received money by Adidas to play for KU.

Opinion: NCAA won't be able to prove its case, the articles written are of adjectives that can not be proven nor supported. Egregious and defiant are not going to be good "facts" in the case.

Brad Avery 2 years, 1 month ago

"As its name suggests, the panel is made up of people with no direct ties to the NCAA. That is in contrast to the traditional process that uses an infractions committee that could include athletic directors, university presidents, former coaches and other administrators who are from fellow NCAA schools and conferences."

The description of the panel to include judges and practicing attorneys is the most encouraging part. My admittedly limited understanding of what the NCAA Gestapo Enforcement Arm is upset about is their lustful willingness to impute guilt by association, especially against K.U. I do not think anyone who received a law degree is likely to buy the theory that shoe reps are "boosters" of the universities with which their company is contractually connected. It is open hypocrisy. I am sure that whoever is representing KU in this fiasco will gladly introduce evidence of the millions of dollars the NCAA and its members gladly harvest every year from these same "boosters."

Dale Rogers 2 years, 1 month ago

I also find it encouraging that the independent committee membership is weighted towards the legal community, people who by training can easily eliminate emotion from their decisions (unlike the NCAA, apparently) while separating speculation from fact. Their decision will be based on the facts as they see them. It all then comes down to whether KU is being honest about this.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 1 month ago

Matt Tait, thank you for this very clearly written, easily understood article. I always look forward to your articles for that reason. I have previously read two articles, one from the KC Star and one from ESPN, that contained enough ambiguity to leave me scratching my head on just how the process actually works, who is involved, etc.

Yes, like someone above said, your article is later than the others, but I understand that first you wanted to fully understand the process so you could relate it to us in such a clearly understandable manner.

Thank you.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

These two sentences actually seem ambiguous, and mixes reporting with opinion.

"But the process ALSO MAY BE viewed favorably by KU officials."

"Whether KU leaders at this point view one process more favorably than the other is unclear. "

The first sentence "may be also" is complete opinion, not reporting.

The second is a clear indication that they have not even reached out to KU. And in the article they don't even state they have contacted KU about this story.

This is a one-sided piece of writing, just like the rest of their articles. There is no story if KU did nothing wrong in their opinion. I think the bigger story that the LJW is not on, is how the NCAA is using misguided allegations, lack of facts, new interpretations, snippets of public court information (no non-public), and have gone on a smear campaign for many of these universities without supported facts. LJW even had an article where there were factual inaccuracies in the NCAA letter and they ignored the inaccuracies to support the NCAA claim.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

Why not take a chance on the IARP? We clearly aren't going to get a fair hearing from the COI.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 1 month ago

I take this as good news. The NCAA is totally biased against KU and I would doubt we get a fair hearing out of them. We would then need to take the matter to "real" court. This step at least appears to get us closer to the end.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

I do too. I'd rather have independents rule on our outcome. But it’s not without risks since a ruling from the IARC cannot be appealed. I guess that means if we let the NCAA decide our fate, we can at least appeal for lesser sanctions.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 1 month ago

The NCAA is a voluntary membership organization. I love how Dennis and others like to project the Cash Cow as also the evil stepmother.

Bill cheats. End of story. He won one championship because he got to OT on a miracle shot. Other than that, it’s been a bunch of city league championships. And he lost/tied two of those to a guy who held a fake funeral.

Please. This annoyance needs to stop. He isn’t even close to being worth selling the soul of the University. And that sh*thole Mansion needs to be burned to the ground.

This is what happens when you put Major Milk Toast in charge of Captain White Bread who’s is charge of Billy Break the Rules.

Let’s end this. Take our licks. Fire everyone and at least act like we are a University again. If the only way we can win is by cheating, then I’m not interested. This program is as dirty as AW is non-competitive. Which means it’s 100% dirty.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

Brett, you are way too naïve and sensitive to be a fan of college basketball. Do yourself a favor and divorce yourself from this sport. And while you’re at it do the same for college football.

Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 1 month ago

I just read some of your previous posts here. My question is: why do you post anything here since it appears that your general opinion of the athletic programs at KU is less than complimentary? If you are so negative about KU, have you considered not following the programs and allowing comments and opinions to be made by peope with a more objective and diverse scrutiny of KU Athletics?

Eric TheCapn 2 years, 1 month ago

It's not really voluntary if you want to make money off college athletics....

As Martin says, KU sports only serves to enrage you, so... maybe stop doing KU sports? It would be great for your blood pressure. (Note: high blood pressure increases COVID-19 mortality rates.)

Brian Wilson 2 years, 1 month ago

You are correct, "voluntary" is a bogus statement. I wish paying taxes were truly voluntary and I could stop because I think our government doesn't deserve it.

But....your point is, it is not voluntary if you are a Division 1 University and want to be affiliated with a conference and have amatuer athletic programs in order to raise money for scholarshps and the school. Pretty much the University has no choice, and in order to play you have to "voluntarily" follow their rules and their punishments. In concept I have no problem with that except that any rules, decisions, punishments, should be founded on our legal concepts and based on facts, follow due process, and not be based on perceptions or innuendo. I cannot think of any organization that should not have to adhere to basic legal principals, rules of evidence, facts, and try to emulate our courts in their own disciplinary actions. If organizations or people want to hand out punishments without tthe type of proof that holds up in a court then the organization or person needs to be shutdown. Organizations like the this, in this case the NCAA, play politics, are filled with favortism, practice discrimination and abuse in their own interest.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

I don’t have a problem with his commentary because it is born out of his loyalty to KU. But college basketball will never become what he wants it to be. College athletics is a contradiction in terms and has been a cesspool of corruption from the start and is not likely to change anytime soon. I wish that wasn’t the case so either accept it for what it is or move on.

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 1 month ago

My initial reaction was to think KU crazy for agreeing to a 'no appeal' process and that it needed to be heard in District Court and appealed to the SCOTUS, if necessary. Then I looked at the makeup of the panel and thought....hmmm. There are some stellar people of this panel and may be worth giving the new system a try. We will see.

Michael Maris 2 years, 1 month ago

At least the case isn't being heard by the AARP.

Thomas Harrison 2 years, 1 month ago

I believe it will be a BIG mistake for KU's historic basketball program to agree to a "no appeal process"! We need to be really well prepared and represented, then sue the NCAA! That organization is out to kill our famed program, and we must not let that happen!!

University of Kansas basketball is critical for the University's well-being!

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm guessing there is not an appeal, but I'm guessing you could still take it to court. If there is a court option after words, I would be all for it.

I do think that KU has a case that should be won, if facts are used.

Mike Hart 2 years, 1 month ago

Sue the NCAA for WHAT exactly? Townsend texting about doing what it takes to get a high profile prospect to come to Kansas for 9 months? Was someone FORCING Self and Townsend to text with Adidas? Is it the NCAA's fault that we have had a handful of players found to have been paid by people (like Adidas) affiliated with our University? Stop acting like Kansas is being victimized here for Christ sake...

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

See this is where things go awry again. The wire tap not text messages.

In the conversation, the Adidas person stated that Zion wanted money and housing and the statement from Townsend was we will need to see what we can do.

So again you aren't getting statements jumbled and saying texts versus wire taps, and it matters. Context matters.

Additionally, some would say that Townsend's statement infers that he was going to go see what he could authorize to get paid, which is a very stigma and a detrimental perspective. Some would also say that when Townsend heard this he was dismayed and stated that he would have to see what they could do, realizing that now the person would no longer be coming to KU and he would have to let his boss know that he would not be getting Zion as a prospect. Furthermore, it should be noted as facts continue to become available. Zion did not come to KU (FACT) and KU did not pay Zion (FACT). Furthermore, KU never made an offer to Adidas nor did they reach out to authorize such payment. If the FBI had all records for wiretaps and text messages and do not have one item that says KU is authorizing or would like you to pay, or has Adidas ever considered paying, but no in the mountains of text messages and wire-taps, the best you have is an Adidas person indicating that Zion wants to be paid to come to School.

Keith Gellar 2 years, 1 month ago

IDK why peeps are glad this is going to the IARP. If you look at the facts and evidence without a basketball and recruiting lens, clearly KU acted shady and broke the law. Remember, the bigger argument we have had is that NCAA isn't punishing all schools the same. with the IARP - they will solely look at KU and are not going to consider historical precedent.

and to top it off - no appeal. This is bad bad news.

Bill self is hoping Mario Chalmers is going to bail him out at the 13th hour again here.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

Please cite the law that KU broke.

Just to be clear, KU was found to be a victim in court.

Mike Hart 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes... and in court... the text messages between Townsend and Adidas... and Self and Adidas... were deemed inadmissible. KU was hardly on trial there. Anyone who thinks Self and Townsend didn't know that Adidas was doing something shady... just isn't being honest and realistic... end of story.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 1 month ago

Incorrect. There were several text messages included in the trial. The FBI wire-taps in some cases were deemed inadmissible. In addition, the complete context of the call was not included, only bits that were posted for defense purposes.

Again which law was broken?

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