One person close to Kansas’ Cheick Diallo is lawyering up for a potential legal fight as the NCAA continues its investigation into the eligibility of the freshman big man.
Tidiane Drame, a Malian-American who has served as Diallo’s legal guardian in the United States, has enlisted the representation of Donald Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney with a long history of representing college athletes in NCAA cases. Jackson, who joined the case on Monday, confirmed his involvement to The Star in an interview on Tuesday morning.
A report from Yahoo! Sports said Jackson was hired to represent Diallo in the case. Jackson told The Star his involvement, at the moment, pertained to Drame, a Malian-American who helped bring Diallo to the United States and pursue a college basketball scholarship earlier this decade.
While the NCAA continues to pore over Diallo’s high school transcripts and coursework from Our Savior New American, a private school in Centereach, N.Y., Jackson said the NCAA was also looking into Diallo’s relationship with Drame.
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“That has been an element,” Jackson said. “They have looked into that. Everything that he’s done has purely been of an acceptable nature. Not only that, he obviously is Malian and he has a longstanding relationship with this young man’s family and quite a number of young people from that country.
“There’s nothing irregular about it.”
Jackson said he was still familiarizing himself with specific aspects of Diallo’s eligibility fight, including the NCAA’s scrutiny of his academic eligibility. The University of Kansas has spent much of the last month offering more information to the NCAA on Diallo’s behalf.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the information includes more than 2,000 pages of Diallo’s homework from Our Savior New American and school records dating back to Diallo’s time in his home country of Mali.
Kansas is set to conclude its exhibition schedule against Fort Hays State on Tuesday Night. On Monday, Kansas coach Bill Self said he did not expect a resolution before game time. Jackson, meanwhile, said there was nothing about Diallo’s relationship with Drame that should prohibit the freshman from being on the floor when the Jayhawks open the regular season against Northern Colorado on Friday.
“The reality of the matter is there’s nothing of an improper nature,” Jackson said. “He’s got a relationship — a fairly lengthy relationship — with this student-athlete and his family. And he’s obviously of Malian descent as well.”
The NCAA, according to Jackson, is also looking into Drame’s relationship with Kassoum Yakwe, another Malian basketball prospect who attended Our Savior New American and has signed with St. John’s. At this point, Yakwe has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
“There are a number of cases involving high-profile players that are, as of today, three days before basketball season, still pending,” Jackson said. “There’s no justification for that. And certainly, there’s nothing involving Tidiane that would justify (Diallo) not being on the floor this week.”