Kansas is expected to receive a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding alleged recruiting violations that surfaced during a federal criminal trial last year, according to the Kansas City Star.
The latest development was expected after NCAA executive vice president Stan Wilcox said earlier this summer that at least six schools would receive notices of allegations, which are expected to include Level I allegations — the most serious under NCAA rules.
It is unclear whether Jayhawks coach Bill Self will be charged with a coach control violation, which could result in his suspension for as long as one season.
Self, 56, has guided Kansas to at least a share of 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles, three NCAA Final Four appearances and the 2008 NCAA championship. He was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 2017-18.
Earlier this month, former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola was sentenced to probation and fined for his role in pay-for-play schemes to steer recruits to Kansas and other Adidas-sponsored schools.
During closing arguments in a federal criminal case in New York in October, an attorney for former Adidas executive James Gatto told a jury that his client approved a $20,000 payment to current Kansas player Silvio De Sousa’s guardian only after Self and Jayhawks assistant Kurtis Townsend requested the payment through Gassnola.
“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,” attorney Michael Schachter told the jury. “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.”
Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins were found guilty on felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Gatto, Code and Dawkins were accused of paying money from Adidas to the families of recruits to ensure they signed with Adidas-sponsored schools, and then with the sneaker company and certain financial planners and agents once they turned pro.
Gatto was accused of working with Gassnola to facilitate $90,000 from Adidas to former Jayhawks recruit Billy Preston’s mother and agreeing to pay $20,000 to Fenny Falmagne, De Sousa’s guardian, to help him “get out from under” a pay-for-play scheme to attend Maryland, which is sponsored by Under Armour.
On Sept. 19, 2017, three days before Kansas announced a 14-year, $196 million contract extension with Adidas, Gassnola texted Self and thanked him for helping the sponsorship deal get done.
Self responded: “I’m happy with Adidas. Just got to get a couple real guys.”
Gassnola replied: “In my mind, it’s KU, bill self. Everyone else fall into line. Too [expletive] bad. That’s what’s right for Adidas basketball. And I know I am RIGHT. The more you win, have lottery pics [sic] and you happy. That’s how it should work in my mind.” Self responded: “That’s how ur works. At UNC and Duke.” Gassnola replied at Kentucky as well.
“I promise you I got this,” Gassnola wrote. “I have never let you down. Except Dyondre lol. We will get it right.”
When Schachter, asked Gassnola if “Dyondre” was a reference to former Arizona player Deandre Ayton, Gassnola replied, “It is.”
Gassnola, a former youth basketball director from Springfield, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in April 2018 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the alleged pay-for-play schemes. He testified during the October trial as part of his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.
During testimony at the trial, text messages between Gassnola, Self and Townsend presented by defense attorneys indicated the coaches were at least aware of Gassnola’s involvement in the Jayhawks’ recruitment of De Sousa, a native of Angola.
On Aug. 9, 2017, Townsend texted Gassnola and wrote, “Coach Self just talked to Fenny let me know how it goes.”
A few hours later, Gassnola texted Self: “Hall of Fame. When you have 5 minutes and your [sic] alone call me.”
Later that night, after Self hadn’t responded, Gassnola texted him again: “I talked with Fenny.”
“We good?” Self asked.
“Always,” Gassnola replied. “That’s [sic] was light work. Ball is in his court now.”
According to cellphone records introduced into evidence, Gassnola and Self had a 5-minute, 6-second phone call later that night. Gassnola testified that he didn’t recall what the men talked about. His phone was not being monitored via FBI wiretaps at the time.
“Coach Self and Coach Townsend asked for Adidas’ help in making this payment to Fenny,” Schachter told the jury in October. “And then Coach Self wanted to know if Adidas told Fenny that the payment would be made, and then the ball is in his court.”
On Aug. 26, 2017, Townsend forwarded Gassnola a text message that he said he’d received from Falmagne: “Coach has been on the phone with Angola. We are good to go. We will commit tomorrow.”
De Sousa, who attended IMG Academy, committed to Kansas four days later. Self called Gatto the next day, but their conversation wasn’t recorded by FBI wiretaps because of a technical issue, according to federal prosecutors.
The NCAA suspended De Sousa for two seasons; he won an appeal and is eligible to play in 2019-20.
Also during the October trial, one of Code’s attorneys, Mark Moore, attempted to introduce wiretap recordings, in which Code and Townsend discussed what it would take for top recruit Zion Williamson to sign with the Jayhawks. Williamson played one season at Duke and was the No. 1 pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in June’s NBA draft.
According to a transcript of the call, which Moore read in court, Townsend told Code, “Hey, but between me and you, you know, [Williamson’s stepfather Lee Anderson] asked about some stuff. You know? And I said, ‘Well, we’ll talk about that after you decide.’
“And then Mr. Code says: ‘I know what he’s asking for,'” Moore continued. “… ‘He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational prospective. He’s asking for money in the pocket. And he’s asking for housing for him and the family.’
“And they go on to talk. And Mr. Townsend says: ‘So I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way. Because if that’s what it takes to get him for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.'”
Kansas would be the second school to receive an NCAA notice of allegations in the wake of the federal government’s investigation into bribes and other corruption in college basketball. In July, the NCAA charged NC State with two Level I violations, including a failure-to-monitor charge against former coach Mark Gottfried, who has since been hired at Cal State Northridge.
Former Wolfpack assistant Orlando Early also is accused of helping facilitate a $40,000 payment from Gassnola to former NC State star player Dennis Smith Jr.’s family in October 2015.
Sources have told ESPN that the NCAA is actively investigating Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Louisville, LSU and USC.
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