College Sports

Despite his protests, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self is in real trouble

Give credit to Bill Self for one thing. He’s come out swinging.

When you are accused of alleged NCAA violations, you have two options. You can cooperate and bank on leniency. Or you can fight. The Kansas basketball coach has chosen the latter option.

As the Kansas City Star reported, Kansas has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA concerning widespread rule breaking in its athletic program. The allegation include three separate Level 1 violations in basketball, including a lack of institutional control and a head coach responsibility charge against Self. That could bring a postseason ban of up to five years and a one-year ban for the Kansas head coach.

The Star referred to the allegations as “seismic.”

Self fired back in a public statement accusing the NCAA of a “false narrative” and claiming that the Indianapolis body was trying to “regain control” after being embarrassed by what transpired in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption.

“The narrative is based on innuendo, half-truths, misimpression’s and mischaracterizations,” Self said.

The coach has a point, but not sure that’s going to help his case. As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo points out, “much of the notice of allegations comes from under-oath federal testimony and other evidence provided from T.J. Gassnola, a longtime Self confidant and friend who also served as a so-called ‘bag man’ for Adidas grassroots basketball.”

There was plenty of damning testimony involving Kansas in the FBI’s report and the trials that followed. The Jayhawks have claimed they were a victim of Adidas’ bidding, but that will be more difficult to prove after Gassnola’s testimony.

It’s probably true that the NCAA is aggressively trying to re-establish its control over the sport. But I doubt Self’s claims are going to hold much weight with the body. Bottom line: The Kansas coach is in real trouble.

More reading:

The Kansas City Star details the allegations of major violations made against Kansas and KU basketball. The school says it will fight the charges.

Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated asks if this could be the end of Bill Self at Kansas? “The NCAA offers an especially harsh account of Self, with details on multiple instances where he, allegedly, broke rules. For instance, Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend are accused of engaging in a pattern of impermissible recruiting inducements and contacts. Along those lines, Self allegedly urged Gassnola to engage in unauthorized recruiting activities on behalf of the school. Self and Gassnola also reportedly exchanged texts about recruits. Self is criticized for not only willfully defying basic compliance requirements but also neglecting to emphasize the value of compliance in his program.”

Jeff Borzello and Myron Medcalf of ESPN break down what the allegations mean for Kansas.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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