NCAA clears Josh Selby to play for KU starting Dec. 18
Freshman must first serve suspension, pay $4,600 to charity
Kansas University’s basketball fans chanted, “We want Selby, we want Selby,” with just over 13 minutes left in the Jayhawks’ rout of North Texas on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
Their wish has been granted.
Josh Selby, KU’s 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Baltimore, who has missed two exhibition games and the first three games of the regular season, will make his collegiate debut against Southern California on Dec. 18 in Allen Fieldhouse.
After months of investigating and deliberating, the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff ruled Friday that Selby must miss nine regular-season games for accepting impermissible benefits prior to his signing an athletics aid agreement at KU.
The benefits include clothes, transportation, meals and lodging for Selby and his family. The university and the NCAA have determined that the value of these benefits is $4,607.58. Selby must pay back that money to a charity of his choice.
The NCAA said that even when the source of the benefits is a long-time family acquaintance when the student-athlete was a childhood acquaintance of the source’s son, or when the source is a mentor of the student-athlete, the receipt of benefits is impermissible.
The source of the benefits, the family has said in the past, is Robert Frazier, a former classmate of Selby’s mom, Maeshon Witherspoon, and business manager of NBA player Carmelo Anthony. Frazier, at Witherspoon’s request, assisted the Selbys during recruiting and he accompanied Selby on visits to some schools, including KU.
“I think it’s a fair ruling, yes I do,” KU coach Bill Self said after Friday’s game. He learned of the NCAA’s decision before shootaround on Friday afternoon and told both Selby and Witherspoon at that time. “I think it’s a fair ruling because the rules are black and white — 30 percent of games (when impermissible benefits are over $1,000), and that’s 30 percent.
“It’s not one (ruling) that anyone is overly excited about, but it’s very fair and certainly understandable,” Self added. “He is kind of a victim of circumstance, to be quite honest. We do have rules and it’s pretty clear how the rules read, but if you’re a 17-year-old out there and nobody tells you these things, you could easily get caught up in the same thing. Even though there was no ill intent by Josh and his family, we and they understand there are consequences if rules are violated.
“Hopefully he can be an example for other youngsters out there moving forward. He’s disappointed that it’s that many games, but he’s excited to know that he will be in a Kansas uniform before too long.”
Selby will not appeal the ruling.
Asked whether he thought it was fair, Selby said: “That’s not for me to comment on because the NCAA will do what they want to regardless. I’m just happy it’s not the entire year because it could have been worse than what it is.”
Selby said he didn’t do anything wrong because he didn’t know accepting benefits from a family friend was against the rules.
“I’m happy I got everything over with the NCAA. I did nothing wrong. They made that decision. We have to follow some rules,” Selby said. “I’m just happy it didn’t turn out in the same situation as Enes Kanter (ineligible Kentucky player), missing the whole season. I’m happy to be back out there with my team.
“Even though I’m disappointed I have to miss nine games, I’m happy that I know when I can be on the court with my teammates. I’m looking forward to helping my team win another conference championship.”
In a release, the NCAA said the staff’s decision is “consistent with student-athlete reinstatement committee guidelines, which start at a 30 percent withholding from games for a student-athlete who receives impermissible benefits valued at more than $1,000. Impermissible benefits are those benefits provided to an individual based on their status as an athlete, unless other NCAA rules permit the benefit in question.”
“Our members have made it clear that student-athletes who receive impermissible benefits must be held accountable,” stated Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs.
KU interim Athletic Director Sean Lester spoke with NCAA members extensively during the past few months.
“I’m happy for Josh and his family that they can put this behind them,” Lester said. “This process had several moving parts, the first one being academics. Once that was addressed, we and the NCAA moved to the eligibility aspect. We knew it would take time, and we appreciate our partnership with the NCAA and our constant communication during this process.”
The bottom line is Selby, who is practicing, will be ready to play against USC. Asked of the fans’ chant and desire to see him play ball, he said: “It made me feel loved.”