Kansas athletic director Jeff Long further explained the NCAA reinstatement process of KU forward Silvio De Sousa on Saturday, saying the NCAA required certain stipulations before it would even consider KU’s request.
Long spoke during an impromptu press conference less than a half-hour before KU’s home game against Texas Tech. This was the day after the NCAA announced De Sousa would be suspended this season and next “because his guardian received payment from a university booster and agent and agreed to receive additional funds from the same person.”
“I have been involved in college athletics for many years and at many institutions. I’ve always respected the NCAA and trusted the process,” Long said Saturday. “But I must tell you. my faith has been shaken.”
Long explained that KU Athletics had worked for three months on De Sousa’s potential reinstatement, pressing the governing body for a resolution. He said one month ago, KU was alerted by the NCAA that it would only consider the request if the athletic department did two things: declare him ineligible and identify former Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola as an agent and booster of the program “only as a hypothetical for the purposes of reinstatement.”
Though KU’s staff disagreed with the NCAA on how to define Gassnola, who testified in federal court that he had made a $2,500 payment to De Sousa’s legal guardian Fenny Falmagne, Long said KU saw no other alternative and agreed to officially declare De Sousa ineligible on Jan. 13.
Nineteen days later, the NCAA sent KU its ruling.
“We considered many, many things through the process,” Long said. “In the end, we felt that was the best approach to take based on the information we had.”
Long did not further explain why the NCAA wanted KU to make clear this “booster” designation. This definition would make it seem that the NCAA might view Gassnola, whose texts sent to KU coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend were shown as evidence in federal court, as a potential person with KU’s interests (or all Adidas schools, for that matter) in mind. Long was clear Saturday that KU declaring Gassnola a booster was only done for De Sousa’s reinstatement request and would not be KU’s stance for any future enforcement matters.
While working with the NCAA, Long said KU “provided every witness, every document, every piece of communication that they requested.” He also said KU held out De Sousa thoughout the process to make sure, if he did play, he would eligible and not jeopardize team results.
Long also was frustrated by the fact that the NCAA, throughout the ordeal, requested that coach Bill Self and De Sousa be told little information about what was happening.
KU will continue to pursue all appeal options, Long said, while admitting that any potential resolution would likely take weeks. In the meantime, De Sousa can continue to practice with the team while receiving his scholarship benefits.
“Make no mistake,” Long said. “We are determined to fight for Silvio and for fairness in this process.”