University of Kansas

Kansas’ Bill Self says Cheick Diallo’s fight with NCAA could get ‘interesting’ as lawyers enter fray

One day after the guardian of Kansas’ Cheick Diallo hired representation for a possible legal battle against the NCAA, Kansas coach Bill Self said he expected the Diallo camp to do “whatever it takes” in an effort to get the freshman big man eligible to play college basketball this season.
One day after the guardian of Kansas’ Cheick Diallo hired representation for a possible legal battle against the NCAA, Kansas coach Bill Self said he expected the Diallo camp to do “whatever it takes” in an effort to get the freshman big man eligible to play college basketball this season. rsugg@kcstar.com

One day after the guardian of Kansas’ Cheick Diallo hired representation for a possible legal battle against the NCAA, KU coach Bill Self said he expected the Diallo camp to do “whatever it takes” in an effort to get the freshman big man eligible to play college basketball this season.

“This is going a big step further,” Self said late Tuesday night, after the Jayhawks’ 95-59 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State.

Self later added that he would not be surprised by the possibility of a lawsuit in the case.

On Monday, Tidian Drame — a Malian-American who discovered Diallo in Mali and helped bring him to the United States — hired Donald Jackson, a prominent Alabama-based lawyer who has handled many NCAA eligibility cases. Jackson told The Star on Tuesday that the NCAA also is looking into Drame’s relationship with Diallo, who has yet to be cleared by the NCAA after spending four years at Our Savior New American, a private high school in Centereach, N.Y.

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The NCAA has scrutinized Diallo’s high school transcripts and asked for more documentation. Representatives from Kansas and the NCAA, Self said, have continued a dialogue for months. To this point, a resolution has not come, and Self said late Tuesday night that he had expected Diallo’s camp to hire legal representation for a possible fight.

“It will be a situation in which we don’t control what’s being said,” Self said. “It will be someone that’s representing him with no interest in Kansas or the NCAA, so it could get pretty interesting.

“We’ll still fight for our university standpoint, but obviously they’re not totally content in the way the process — or lack thereof — has played out and the timing of it. So they’re going to fight for him.”

When asked whether he was OK with outside lawyers getting involved, Self said he was “fine with whatever.”

“We’re frustrated,” Self said. “We fought our butts off. So I’m frustrated. But the whole thing is, the NCAA knew that this was going to happen.

“… They’re going to fight for the kid. It comes to no surprise to me. We were all hopeful that it wouldn’t come to this. But I wouldn’t blame [them]; if I was a parent, I’d do the same thing.”

Based on Self’s latest comments and the involvement of Jackson, it appears the prospects of a positive resolution have dimmed. Diallo, a 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American, was supposed to be the centerpiece of Kansas’ 2015 recruiting class, a high-motor big man who could anchor the middle and serve as a productive sidekick for junior forward Perry Ellis. Instead, Diallo has spent most of the last four months in limbo, waiting to hear his fate.

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The situation has frustrated Self and confounded Diallo’s camp. Now, as the Jayhawks’ regular-season opener against Northern Colorado arrives on Friday night, another layer of an ongoing fight could be emerging.

“A lot of things are just now being addressed,” Self said, remaining somewhat vague. “We’re Nov. 10, and there are some things that, obviously, under most normal circumstances, this is handled Sept. 10 at the latest.

“We just got to go by what they tell us, and fight for him. We have representation that is fighting for him hard. Now he’ll have double representation. So it could get pretty interesting.”

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