Few people expected Kansas to repeat as NCAA men's basketball champion. Now it's certain that the Jayhawks won't.
KU Athletic Director Bob Frederick this morning announced NCAA sanctions against 1988 champion KU that include a prohibition on participation in the 1989 NCAA tournament. KU is the first NCAA basketball champion to be barred from defending its title.
KU was also told by the NCAA Committee on Infractions that:
¢ It cannot pay for campus visits by prospective athletes from Jan. 1, 1989 to Dec. 31, 1989.
¢ It must reduce by one the total number of scholarships in effect for the 1989-90 year. Since KU has 13 players on grants now, that means only 12 will be allowed in '89-'90.
¢ It must show cause why it should not be penalized further if it fails to disassociate three representatives of the school's athletic interest from the athletic program. That order is based on their involvement in violations. Frederick declined to name those three representatives.
KU was hit with those sanctions for violations - mostly illegal extra benefits - that occured between June 1986 and April 1987.
Thus, KU will not have the opportunity to defend its national championship because of rules it violated two years before it won the NCAA title.
"It's unfair," Frederick said, "but I've never been able to come up with an alternative that would serve as a deterrent to rules violations. I guess we're stuck with a situation where people who aren't involved are stuck with a penalty."
In response to the NCAA announcement, KU Chancellor Gene Budig expressed confidence in both Frederick and Roy Williams, the new men's basketball coach. And, Budig said, "every possible effort will be made by the administration to assure that NCAA rules and regulations are clearly understood and rigorously enforced. We intend to win in the classroom and on the basketball court in the years ahead.
"Fortunately, the University of Kansas has a rich heritage to draw upon in basketball."
All the violations occured while Larry Brown was head coach. Brown, who left last June to become head coach of the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Assn., was not available for comment this morning.
Lonny Rose, a member fo the KU School of Law faculty who also serves as Brown's attorney, monitored this morning's press conference. Rose said he planned to talk to Brown about it and that the former KU coach might comment this afternoon.
As severe as the penalties seemed, it could have been worse. KU could have been hit with the NCAA's so-called "death penalty" because of the school's football penalty in 1983.
Any NCAA school that has major violations within its athletic department in a five-year period can be forced to drop a sport for a year or longer.
However, the NCAA cited "unique circumstances" in the 10-page infractions report it sent to the university.
Kansas escaped the "death penalty", the committee wrote, because:
¢ "The violations, while serious and calculated to obtain a recruiting advantage with one highly visible transfer student athlete, were related to a 10-day period, and the investigation revealed no other serious vilations in the basketball program."
¢ "The basketball program was not involved in the 1983 infractions case and the football program was not involved in this case."
¢ "The compliance, educational and monitoring programs, which need further strengthening, can best be established through a lengthy period of probation."
Officially, Kansas was placed on a three-year probation, although the duration of the sanctions is just one year.
Frederick said Kansas will not appeal.
"It should be noted," he said, "that the violations occured during the summer and fall of 1986 and that none of the principals involved in the violation are employed by the university today."
In order to prove to the NCAA that Kansas is taking steps to assure no repeat violations, Frederick said, he will create a new compliance auditor position in the athletic department.
In addition, he said, new contracts with all coaches will include provisions about compliance with NCAA and Big Eight rules as a condition of employment, and that an annual compliance audit of both football and men's basketball would be made by an outside agency.
When Frederick first revealed the existence of an NCAA Inquiry into the men's basketball program, he said of the allegations, "We feel on a whole they're not very serious."
This morning, he conceded he was "somewhat surprised" by the NCAA punishment "because we thought it could be resolved without the committee."
The NCAA report said the KU violations were brought to its attention in October 1986 by a "confidential informant" who had information about the recruitment of a "highly visible transfer student-athlete by the University of Kansas."
Ostensibly, that player was Vincent Askew, a Memphis State guard who came to lawrence in the summer of 1986 with the intention of transferring to KU. However, Askew returned to MSU and re-enrolled there in the fall of '86.
According to the report, the NCAA found "improper recruiting inducements totaling at least $1,244 to the above-mentioned young man."
But not all the violations involved illegal payments to Askew because the committee said it "made additional findings of improper recruiting inducements, contacts and transportation related to the recruitment of this prospective transfer student-athlete, as well as one finding of improper entertainment for a different prospective student-athlete."
Underlying all this, the committee wrote, was lax monitoring of the KU basketball program by the athletic department.
"Of equal importance," the report reads, "to the findings of specific violations of NCAA legislation is the university's disturbing failure to exercise appropriate institutional control over the men's basketball program."
It particularly galled the committee, too, that violations that occured in the '83 football case had also happened in basketball.
"Violations concerning local transportation between the Kansas City airport and Lawrence," the report stated, "which had been committed in the previous case heard by the committee, are repeated in this case with no evidence that the athletics administration has taken steps to prevent them."
And there were more.
"Very troubling was the casual administration of a summer jobs program by the university," the report reads.
Finally, the infractions committee clearly wasn't happy with its closed-door session with KU officials on Sept. 30.
"The committee was also troubled by statements by the university in its official response : and during the hearing before the committee that clear and admitted violations of NCAA regulations somehow should not be considered violations."
Vickie Thomas, the university general counsel, prepared that response and also sat in on the hearing. She said it was simply a matter of interpretation.
"We did not believe the facts in their entirety indicated violations," she said this morning, "and they disagreed with us. We put together a comprehensive response, and in the end it's the judgement of the infractions committee."
Awareness of the possibility of the "death penalty" had something to do with the university response, Thomas said, although she added that the committee never made KU show cause why its basketball program shouldn't be suspended.
"They did not ask," she said, "but that was part of our response."
Members of the NCAA Committee on Infractions are: Allan Williams, Virginia, chairman; Milton Schroeder, Arizona State; John Nowak, Illinois; Roy Kramer, Vanderbilt; Patricia O'Hara, Notre Dame; Donna Claxton-Deming, Temple.
Del Brinkman, KU faculty representative to the Big Eight Conference and vice chancellor for academic affairs, made comments similar to Budig's.
"I know that KU faculty, staff and students strongly support Roy Williams and Bob Frederick as they continue to build a basketball program of high quality and integrity," he said.