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Self says NCAA probe tarnished rep ‘immensely’

Self says NCAA probe tarnished rep ‘immensely’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bill Self said the NCAA investigation that ended last week without additional penalties imposed on him or Kansas by the independent resolution panel still caused significant damage.

Kansas had been accused of using Adidas, its apparel sponsor, to steer recruits to Lawrence. The panel reduced KU’s charges, tied to the FBI’s bribery investigation of college basketball in 2017, and did not issue a postseason ban.

“I think my reputation has been tarnished immensely,” Self told ESPN at Big 12 media day in Kansas City. “But the whole thing is we knew right from the jump what we had done and what we had not done. The bottom line is I’m proud of how we conducted our business. At the end of the day, it was a long blip, but it was still a blip in the big scheme of things.”

As part of the FBI’s bribery investigation into college basketball, the NCAA had initially accused Kansas of five Level I violations in 2019 for attempting to gain an illegal edge in recruiting via Adidas. Kansas self-imposed multiple penalties, including a pair of four-game suspensions for Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend last season, and multiple recruiting restrictions.

The independent accountability resolution process (IARP), an alternative to the traditional NCAA infractions process, reduced those five Level I violations, however, to Level II and Level III violations. The original Level I charge against Self, who had been accused of head coach responsibility violations, was reduced to a Level III charge. The school itself had been hit with a lack of institutional control charge but also avoided major penalties beyond probation for the program.

Also, as a result of the IARP’s ruling, Kansas has to vacate its 2018 Final Four appearance and wins from that season because of Silvio De Sousa’s participation. De Sousa’s guardian had been accused of accepting money from an Adidas intermediary.

Self said he’s happy to finally move forward.

“I think it’s been so frustrating because we haven’t been able to speak out or speak up or to have comment or even defend ourselves in many ways,” Self told ESPN. “But looking back now? Frustrating, taxing, a lot of different things. But [I’m] so glad that it’s behind us. That’s a lot of stress to put on a lot of people for that many years. Of course, the narrative wasn’t exactly what the end result ended up being. And certainly, the end result is exactly what we expected all along.”

The IARP ruling, the final case that will be decided by the panel after the NCAA announced last year it would no longer exist after the Kansas case, was the conclusion of a turbulent period for Self and his program.

Kansas will enter the season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll after adding Michigan star Hunter Dickinson. But Self, who missed the NCAA tournament last season because of medical concerns, will enter the season on the injured list. Self broke two ribs earlier this month while playing with his grandchildren, he said.

Last month, Kansas dismissed Texas transfer Arterio Morris, who has been charged with rape for an alleged incident over the summer that occurred at McCarthy Hall, where Kansas basketball players live on campus. Self said the team did its due diligence on Morris, who had been accused last year of an assault on an ex-girlfriend before playing his first game at Texas.

In his first court appearance this week, Morris did not enter a plea. He is facing a minimum of more than 10 years in prison for the alleged assault.

“We liked Arterio as a prospect coming in and as a person,” Self said. “It was well-vetted by all the proper people on campus and everything like that. Certainly, it’s been a very bad situation, and you don’t want to lose sight of all parties involved with the situation. We’re certainly disappointed, but we’ve handled it the only way that we know how we can handle it, and you know, we certainly hope for the best for all parties. But we definitely made the decision to move forward without him being a part of us.”

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Myron Medcalf

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