Kansas responds to notice of allegations from NCAA

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — The University of Kansas received a notice of allegations from the NCAA on Monday that alleges significant violations within its storied men’s basketball program.

The notice included multiple Level 1 violations tied primarily to recruiting, lack of institutional control and a responsibility charge leveled against Hall of Fame coach Bill Self.

Kansas was given notice of a secondary violation in football tied to then-coach David Beaty. That violation involved the use of an extra coach during practice.

The NCAA’s Stacey Osburn declined to comment on “current, pending or ongoing investigations.”

The university responded Monday evening:

On Monday, September 23, the University of Kansas received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA enforcement staff regarding alleged violations of NCAA bylaws within the Kansas men’s basketball and football programs. The University has begun its detailed review of the Notice and has been granted access to some of the NCAA evidentiary documents for the first time. Per NCAA bylaws, the University has 90 days to submit a Response to the Notice of Allegations to be considered by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

The University’s response will fully and comprehensively present its positions regarding the Notice. In the meantime, though, it is already clear from an initial review that the University will fiercely dispute in detail much of what has been presented.

First and foremost, the University emphasizes that it emphatically rejects the assertion that Adidas and Adidas employees and associates were boosters and agents of the University (as defined by NCAA legislation) during the period of the alleged violations and therefore acting on the University’s behalf when they engaged in alleged violations of NCAA bylaws.

As for the allegations regarding Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self, voluminous evidence demonstrates uncontestably that he did, in fact, promote an atmosphere of compliance and fully monitor his staff. The University firmly and fully supports Coach Self and his staff.

Regarding the self-reported football violations, the University’s monitoring systems worked to identify the issues, and KU self-reported violations to the NCAA related to the conduct of two members of the previous coaching staff. Those involved in the football violations are no longer associated with the University.

The University strongly disagrees with the assertion that it “lacks of institutional control.” In fact, the University believes that the record will demonstrate just the opposite. The University of Kansas takes seriously all NCAA and Big XII bylaws, consistently provides education to its staff members, and monitors its programs to ensure compliance with these bylaws. Additionally, the University has taken several actions to enhance its already strong compliance programs. Chancellor Doug Girod and Director of Athletics Jeff Long also retained an outside compliance expert to review the entire compliance program and provide recommendations, if warranted, about opportunities for improvement in light of the changes in the national landscape around college basketball. The report found that our compliance program meets or exceeds industry standard in all facets. Furthermore, the University proactively established a reporting line from the senior compliance administrator directly to the Chancellor and enhanced the frequency and depth of compliance education programs for student-athletes, staff, parents, donors and local businesses. As a result of these actions, the University’s already strong compliance programs are now even more robust.

We understand this is a unique moment in collegiate athletics, and we recognize the NCAA finds itself in a challenging position. But we don’t believe these allegations are the most appropriate way to address long-standing challenges in college basketball.

The University will continue to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement process and looks forward to submitting its Response to the Notice of Allegations, and we will gladly make that response public when it is submitted.

Chancellor Doug Girod:

“The University of Kansas has high standards of ethical conduct for all of our employees, and we take seriously any conduct that is antithetical to our values and mission. While we will accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws, we will not shy away from forcefully pushing back on allegations that the facts simply do not substantiate. We stand firmly behind Coach Self and our men’s basketball program, and we will continue to work diligently to do what is right.”

Director of Athletics Jeff Long:

“Obviously, we are disappointed in the allegations leveled against our men’s basketball program as well as our self-reported violations from the previous football staff. We strongly disagree with the allegations regarding men’s basketball. We fully support Coach Self and his staff, and we will vigorously defend the allegations against him and our University. As for the football violations, we fully met the requirements and our responsibility to the NCAA by self-reporting the violations when our compliance procedures uncovered the issues. I am confident in our process to respond to the allegations and look forward to resolving this matter.”

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self:

“By the NCAA’s own admission through its public statements early this summer, it’s no secret that there is tremendous pressure on the NCAA to respond to the federal court proceedings involving college basketball. Compelled to reassure member institutions and the general public that it can police its member institutions, the NCAA enforcement staff has responded in an unnecessarily aggressive manner in submitting today’s unsubstantiated Notice of Allegations, and I, as well as the University, will vigorously dispute what has been alleged.

In its haste and attempt to regain control, the enforcement staff has created a false narrative regarding me and our basketball program. The narrative is based on innuendo, half-truths, misimpressions and mischaracterizations. In reality, we all know there is only one version of the truth. The truth is based on verifiable facts, and I am confident the facts we will demonstrate in our case will expose the inaccuracies of the enforcement staff’s narrative.

I have always taken pride in my commitment to rules compliance and led programs that operate with integrity and within the rules, and I am proud of the success that we have achieved at each program along the way. Every student-athlete who has ever played for me and their families know we follow the rules.

These allegations are serious and damaging to the University and to myself, and I hate that KU has to go through this process. With our staff’s full cooperation, these allegations will be addressed within NCAA procedures and with urgency and resolve. I will strenuously defend myself and the program, but I will respect the process and will not speak to the details of the case.”

Head Football Coach Les Miles:

“I am confident in the University’s process leading to the self-reported violations arising from the previous football staff. Our entire focus is on the current season and the culture that we are building here at KU. The future is bright for Kansas Football.”

Kansas had been in the NCAA’s crosshairs since early this summer, when Vice President Stan Wilcox said at least six schools were likely to receive notices of allegations for Level 1 infractions

North Carolina State was the first of them, getting a notice July 10 of two violations, including a failure-to-monitor charge leveled against former coach Mark Gottfried.

Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Louisville, LSU and USC have also been under the microscope.

Level 1 infractions are considered the most severe by the NCAA, and often include postseason bans, the forfeiture of wins and championships and the loss of scholarships. But the notice itself is only the beginning of a process that can often take more than a year — the school typically sends a response to the NCAA enforcement committee, setting off an exchange of information.

Ultimately, a hearing will be scheduled and Kansas will be allowed to present its case. The NCAA will then issue its ruling, often within several months, and the school retains the right to appeal.

Kansas was among the most prominent college basketball programs swept up in an NCAA probe into a pay-for-play scheme that began with an FBI investigation into apparel company Adidas.

The inquiry centered on a former employee, T.J. Gassnola, who testified in October that he had made payments to several recruits for schools tied to Adidas. Among them were a $90,000 payment to the family of then-Kansas recruit Billy Preston and $2,500 to the guardian of current forward Silvio De Sousa.

Gassnola, who avoided prison time by cooperating with the investigation, said he also paid $20,000 to Fenny Falmagne, De Sousa’s guardian, to pry the prospect loose from an agreement with Maryland.

Self said last October that “when recruiting potential student-athletes, my staff and I have not and do not offer improper inducements to them, or their families, to influence their college decisions, nor are we aware of any third-party involvement to do so.

“As the leader of the Kansas men’s basketball program,” Self added, “I take pride in my role to operate with integrity and within the NCAA rules.”

Gassnola testified that Self was unaware of the payments, but text messages and phone records indicate a close relationship with the national championship-winning coach. And an attorney for former Adidas executive James Gatto told a jury that his client approved the payment to Falmagne only after Self and his longtime assistant, Kurtis Townsend, requested Gassnola to provide it.

“The evidence, I submit, shows that Kansas’ head coach knew of and asked for a payment to be made to Silvio De Sousa’s handler,” the attorney, Michael Schachter, said at the time. “More than that, Coach Self requested just the kind of help that Mr. Gassnola arranged as a condition for Coach Self to permit Adidas to continue their sponsorship agreement with the University of Kansas.”

In April, the school signed a 14-year, $196 million extension of its apparel and sponsorship deal with Adidas. The deal, which is worth $14 million annually, runs through the 2030-31 school year.

Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and handler Chris Dawkins have been found guilty of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the case. Gassnola was given probation as part of his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.

While Gassnola appeared to try to shield Self from the FBI probe, their relationship came out in text messages presented by defense attorneys at his trial. In one exchange, Gassnola texted Self that “I talked to Fenny,” and the coach replied, “We good?” Gassnola said, “Always. That’s light work.”

Later, Gassnola texted about keeping Self and Kansas happy with lottery picks. Self responded: “That’s how (it) works. At UNC and Duke.”

De Sousa was declared ineligible for two full seasons by the NCAA, and sat out last season before declaring for the draft. He withdrew when the NCAA approved his appeal to play this season.

The Jayhawks had their run of 14 consecutive Big 12 championships end this past season, when Kansas State and Texas Tech tied for the crown. But with several returning stars and another elite recruiting class, the Jayhawks were expected to be a top-five team in the AP preseason poll.

Attorneys for Bill Self also issued the following statement:

I, Scott Tompsett of Tompsett Collegiate Sports Law, and Bill Sullivan of Pillsbury Winthrop LLP Washington D.C. represent Bill Self.

According to the Notice of Allegations released by KU, the NCAA enforcement staff has alleged that Coach Self lacked head coach control. In other words, the NCAA has alleged that Coach Self did not exercise appropriate due care in the management of his program. We will vigorously dispute that allegation.

The NCAA has not alleged that Coach Self was involved in or was knowledgeable about any illicit payments to recruits or student-athletes. The NCAA has not alleged that Coach Self or anyone on his staff was involved in or had knowledge of any illicit payments. If illicit payments were made, Coach Self and his staff were completely unaware of them.

In fact, the undisputed evidence from the SDNY trials is that the illicit payments were deliberately and intentionally concealed from KU and Coach Self. Mr. Gassnola testified as a government witness that he deliberately concealed the payments from KU and Coach Self.

After a comprehensive FBI investigation in which KU cooperated fully, federal prosecutors determined that both KU and its athletics department had been the subject of a criminal conspiracy to defraud them. After several weeks of trial last year, the federal jury agreed, finding that KU and its employees were unaware that the defendants’ illicit payments compromised the eligibility of certain student-athletes. Indeed, federal Judge Lewis Kaplan has ordered that restitution payments be made to KU to compensate KU for the fraud that was committed against it.

In the upcoming months, I and Mr. Sullivan will prepare a comprehensive and detailed written response to the Notice of Allegations. We will address each and every allegation.

Then Coach Self and we will appear before the Committee on Infractions (COI) for a full hearing to discuss the case. The COI will then deliberate and issue its decision.

While this process moves forward, Coach Self asks that the Jayhawk Nation support the current team as they work for another Big 12 Conference title, an NCAA tournament bid and ultimately compete for a national championship.



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