Kansas remained above the fray when the FBI initially revealed its investigation into corruption throughout college basketball last year. That investigation has gone to trial this month in a Manhattan courtroom, putting former Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code and agency runner Christian Dawkins under the spotlight.
While the prosecution is trying to prove these men “defrauded” universities who were trying to work within the strict confines of NCAA rules (stop laughing) by paying athletes, the real intrigue was always going to be the juicy details that came out during the trial.
Now those details are having a tangible impact on the preseason No. 1 team in the sport before a verdict for Code, Gatto, and Dawkins is ever read.
Kansas is holding Silvio De Sousa out from competition and reviewing his eligibility. Here’s what head coach Bill Self said in a statement Wednesday:
Information was presented during the current trial in New York -- some of which we knew, some of which we didn’t. We have decided to withhold Silvio from competition until we can evaluate and understand the new information. We have already discussed the trial developments with the NBAA and will continue to work with NCAA staff moving forward.
What are the allegations against De Sousa and Kansas?
De Sousa was considered a five-star power forward recruit out of high school. His recruitment came down to Maryland vs. Kansas, a flagship Under Armour school against an Adidas one. There was allegedly money changing hands on both sides to influence his decision.
- A Maryland booster allegedly gave $60K to De Sousa’s guardian to get him to commit to the Terrapins, according to testimony from Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola.
- When De Sousa committed to Kansas, the Maryland booster allegedly wanted their money back. Gassnola allegedly offered to pay De Sousa’s guardian $20K to get out from under the payment. That payment was never made. Gassnola did however pay $2,500 to the guardian to help get De Sousa enrolled in online classes.
- Texts between Gassnola, Self, and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend were presented in court to show the Kansas coaches were aware Adidas was facilitating money to De Sousa’s guardian.
De Sousa joined Kansas at the start of the second semester last season. It was hailed as a major addition at the time for a team that badly needed front court depth. De Sousa played 26 minutes in the Jayhawks’ Elite Eight win over Duke and 10 minutes in the team’s Final Four loss to Villanova.
Holding out De Sousa is a no-brainer for Kansas
Not letting De Sousa take the court makes sense for the same reason it made sense for Kansas to hold out Cliff Alexander and Billy Preston once upon a time: this program is bigger than any one player. It doesn’t want to put a target on its back for any future NCAA investigations.
On the court, losing De Sousa will sting, but it’s far from a death blow. Kansas is absolutely loaded this year, getting the nod as the No. 1 team in the country for the preseason AP Poll. The Jayhawks remain deserving of that honor even without De Sousa, who likely did not project as a starter.
Front court depth is no longer a major issue for Kansas this year. It will have Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson installed at the four and the mammoth Udoka Azubuike at center. Veteran Mitch Lightfoot returns to add depth, and there’s also four-star freshman center David McCormack. The Jayhawks are stacked on the perimeter, as well. De Sousa would have been the first big man off the bench, but Kansas can survive without him.
This is the first major shoe to drop from the FBI trial in terms of impacting the upcoming college basketball season. Simply put: holding out De Sousa is a move KU had to make.