Kansas suspends Bill Self four games in self-imposed punishment
Kansas suspended head coach Bill Self for the first four games of the 2022-23 season Wednesday in a self-imposed punishment stemming from a 2017 federal probe into college basketball corruption.
Assistant coach Kurtis Townsend also received a four-game suspension and the program faces other penalties, including scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations.
Self will miss Monday’s season opener against Omaha, the first game that the fifth-ranked Jayhawks will play as defending national champions, and return Nov. 23 against North Carolina State in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Norm Roberts will serve as acting coach, including for the Nov. 15 game against Duke in Indianapolis.
“Coach Townsend and I accept and support KU’s decision to self-impose these sanctions,” Self said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are in good hands with Coach Roberts, and I am confident that he will do a great job on the bench leading our team. I am proud of the way our guys have handled this situation and I look forward to returning to the bench for our game against NC State.”
Self and Roberts had already been barred from off-campus recruiting visits from April to July this year. The school also loses three scholarships over the next three years and must reduce its official number of recruiting visits this year by four and its number of allowable recruiting days for the upcoming year by 13 days.
“We are hopeful these difficult self-imposed sanctions will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion,” Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said. “Until then, we will continue to focus on supporting our outstanding men’s basketball student-athletes and coaches. … Per confidentiality guidelines related to infraction cases, we are unable to comment in depth until there is full resolution of this matter.”
Self, 59, has a lifetime contract that prohibits being fired for cause for reasons related to the probe into recruiting payments executed by Adidas that ultimately led to the demise of Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Arizona’s Sean Miller.
Self has maintained his innocence but has said he is not at liberty to discuss details of the matter.
The investigation revealed a text exchange in which Adidas’ T.J. Gassnola told Self that Silvio De Sousa was among recruits offered payments of up to $100,000 in covert deals financed by the apparel company.
Self responded: “We good,” the defense exhibit of the communication shows.
Gassnola said: “Always. That was light work. Ball is in his court night.”
Phone records showed Self and Gassnola were on the phone for five minutes later that night.
Still, Self denied any knowledge of payments to players or recruits.
Gassnola testified he paid $20,000 to De Sousa’s family and confirmed it with Townsend, including a text follow up that payment was made to De Sousa’s family in Angola.
“Coach has been on the phone with Angola. We are good to go. We will commit tomorrow,” the text from De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, read.
Less than one month later, Kansas announced that it had agreed to a 12-year, $191 million contract extension with Adidas.
The FBI also had audio of a phone call involving Townsend and Merl Code regarding financial demands from Zion Williamson’s father. Williamson chose to attend Duke.
Duke reportedly cooperated with the NCAA request to provide any information the university gathered involving similar demands. In the call with Townsend, “cash in the pocket” and “housing for him and his family” were discussed.
Additional messages from Self to Gassnola include the coach saying he was happy with Adidas, “Just got to get a couple real guys.”
“I promise you I got this,” Gassnola replied. “I have never let you down. Except Dyondre lol. We will get it right.”
Gassnola testified the reference was to Deandre Ayton, who chose to attend Arizona.
Self has been the head coach at Kansas since the 2003-04 season, leading the Jayhawks to national championships in 2008 and 2022.
–Field Level Media