University of Kansas

KU won’t play Silvio De Sousa pending eligibility review; school working with NCAA

KU coach Bill Self on Adidas trial and the plan for Silvio DeSousa

KU Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self spoke Wednesday about the ongoing Adidas trial and the decision to sit Silvio DeSousa, during Big 12 basketball media day on Oct. 24, 2018 in Kansas City.
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KU Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self spoke Wednesday about the ongoing Adidas trial and the decision to sit Silvio DeSousa, during Big 12 basketball media day on Oct. 24, 2018 in Kansas City.

Kansas sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa will be held out of competition while an eligibility review is conducted, Jayhawks coach Bill Self announced Wednesday.

De Sousa and his recruitment have been discussed in a federal trial relating to corruption in college basketball.

“Information was presented during the current trial in New York — some of which we knew, some of which we didn’t,” Self said in a news release. “We have decided to withhold Silvio from competition until we can evaluate and understand the new information. We have already discussed trial developments with the NCAA and will continue to work with NCAA staff moving forward.”

After the verdict was reached, Self read a prepared statement as part of a news conference Wednesday night in Lawrence in which he said he could not comment on elements of the trial or address information “that has the potential to be related to a future inquiry.”

“While I cannot specifically comment, I can say that we all know shoe companies have influence on all levels of basketball. They work hard to develop brand loyalty with top high school prospects, and they have some influence with them, which is totally permissible under NCAA guidelines,” Self said. “When recruiting prospective student-athletes, my staff and I have not and do not offer improper inducements to them or their families to influence their college decisions, nor are we aware of any third-party involvement to do so.”

During the trial, Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola testified that he gave De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, $2,500 so De Sousa could take online classes. Gassnola also said he originally offered $20,000 to Falmagne to help repay $60,000 given to him from a Maryland booster; Gassnola said he never paid it, though, he was cautious because of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

According to sidebar discussions between the judge and lawyers — talks that were not heard by the jury or gallery — defense attorney Michael Schachter attempted to admit evidence to prove that Gassnola was lying about not making any additional payments. Schachter said the defense had a wiretapped Aug. 31 phone call between Gassnola and former Adidas employee Merl Code where Gassnola says, “I have been going around dropping bags to that idiot Fenny in order to get Kansas to re-sign with Adidas.” Schachter later stated that Gassnola, in the same conversation, said, “I am dropping $20 or $30,000 bag ... “

The defense also tried to prove KU’s coaches had knowledge Gassnola was making payments. Schachter spoke to the judge about text messages between Gassnola and Self from Aug. 9, 2017, when the two are discussing Falmagne before the topic changes to KU reworking a contract extension with Adidas:

Gassnola, 9:33 p.m.: I talked with Fennie

Self, 9:34 p.m.: We good?

Gassnola, 9:34 p.m.: Always. That’s was light work.

Ball is in his court now

Self, 9:34 p.m.: Spoke to Sean. All good.

Gassnola, 9:35 p.m.: Will it be done by Tuesday Deadline ?

Self, 9:36 p.m.: From what I was told yes

Gassnola, 9:36 p.m.: Great. Thank u boss

In the sidebar, prosecution attorney Eli Mark tells the judge that Self is speaking about KU deputy athletic director Sean Lester. KU announced a planned 12-year contract extension with Adidas the next month.

“Coach Self responds to this information about Fenny by linking it to Kansas re-singing the sponsorship agreement with Adidas,” Schachter said to the judge. “ ... ‘Will it be done by Tuesday deadline?’ is really the point of this, is that Mr. Gassnola in his mind is linking this.”

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talked about KU basketball and the ongoing FBI trial on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, at Big 12 media day in Kansas City.

KU plays its first of two exhibition games on Thursday night against Emporia State at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. The Jayhawks open the regular season on Nov. 6 vs. Michigan State in Indianapolis.

“I don’t see it as being a huge negative,” Self said on WHB (810 AM), when asked about how De Sousa being out will impact his team’s rotation. “I do see it as being a good player we don’t have at our disposal Thursday or however long it would be, based on the review.”

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa and KU basketball coach Bill Self discuss on Oct. 10, 2018 the eligibility of De Sousa during KU media day as the Adidas college basketball fraud trial continues.

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Jesse Newell

Jesse Newell covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.

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