Skip to main content

SI Writer: Hall Of Fame Coach Deserves To Be Suspended

Udoka Azubuike walking on the court during a Kansas basketball game.

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Udoka Azubuike #35 of the Kansas Jayhawks walks up the court as he waits for action to resume after a time out in the second half against the Oklahoma Sooners at Allen Fieldhouse on February 19, 2018 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Bill Self will be without sophomore Silvio De Sousa, the former four-star player who had been tabbed in the recently decided adidas case, for at least part of the season. De Sousa is being held out due to eligibility concerns, after he was accused to taking money to play for Kansas basketball during the trial.

During the trial, it was alleged that Self was pretty directly involved in what would be serious NCAA violations.

Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola, the man who allegedly paid De Sousa's legal guardian to deliver him to the Jayhawks, wrote that he met with Self and other KU staffers to discuss recruiting, and assured that he and others were "here to help."

Gassnola denied that Self knew about payments to families, but the two did share text messages that discussed getting "a couple of real guys," and competing with schools like Duke and Kentucky on the recruiting trail. From The Kansas City Star:

On Aug. 19, 2017 — days before KU Athletics announced a 12-year contract extension with Adidas — Gassnola texted Self to tell him thank you for helping to get that extension done. Self replied via text that he was happy with Adidas and wrote “Just got to get a couple real guys.”

Gassnola responded with a text that said, “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’m right. The more you win, have lottery picks and you happy. That’s how it should work in my mind.” Self replied by text, “That’s how ur (sic) works. At UNC and Duke.” Gassnola answered by saying Kentucky as well. “I promise you I got this. I have never let you down. Except (Deandre). Lol. We will get it right.”

None of this directly implicates Self in NCAA violations. However, Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg argues that if Silvio De Sousa has to sit out based on the risk that he is ineligible, Bill Self should be in the same boat.

From his column:

If the NCAA cares about its rules a 10th as much as it claims, then here is an idea: Suspend Bill Self. Tell him to sit on his couch while Kansas starts its basketball season, and tell him assistant coach Kurtis Townsend can join him there.

This may sound unfair, because Self has not been proven guilty of anything, he has a right to defend himself, and to that, I say: So what?

Players under investigation are held out all the time. Right now, Kansas is holding forward Silvio De Sousa out of competition because he might be ineligible. Kansas knows if the NCAA dings De Sousa for accepting money later, KU might have to forfeit games. Well, why is that fair for De Sousa and not for Self?

As Rosenberg notes, others during the trial, including the attorney for James Gatto, who was found guilty, said that Self was aware and asked for the payment to deliver De Sousa.

That makes it a bit of he-said-he-said, but it largely puts Self in the same situation as De Sousa himself, if payment went to his guardian Fenny Falmagne.

No one actually thinks Self will be suspended until the NCAA gets around to making a ruling, but Rosenberg does point out the hypocrisy in this whole thing.

[Sports Illustrated]