KU releases federal subpoenas in college basketball investigation
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Story updated: 6:46 p.m., July 24, 2018
The University of Kansas was ordered to turn over text messages from coaches, contracts with Adidas and recordings of internal investigations related to the eligibility of, presumably, a student-athlete, newly released federal subpoenas show.
KU officials on Tuesday afternoon released redacted copies of two federal subpoenas seeking information as part of an FBI investigation into allegedly illegal college basketball recruiting practices across the country. KU officials last month tacitly confirmed the university had been subpoenaed in the federal investigation, but released no further details at that time
But the documents leave unclear how many, and which, student-athletes with KU connections may be under scrutiny by federal officials. KU officials redacted several names from the released subpoenas, and a spokesman declined to answer questions about how many student-athletes were listed in the documents.
On Tuesday, KU honored the request of media organizations who had sought the subpoena documents. From the documents:
• KU was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 8 and again on March 14.
• Both subpoenas seek email, text and other communications from the KU men’s basketball coaching staff. The January subpoena seeks communication between coaches and three individuals whose names are redacted, plus “any other family member or representative of (name redacted.)” The March subpoena seeks communications between coaches and at least two names that are redacted, plus “any other family member or representative of (name redacted.)
• Both subpoenas seek “enrollment forms, financial aid forms, eligibility forms including any NCAA student-athlete statements” and national letters of intent. It is unclear how many student-athletes on which federal officials requested such information, but based on the redactions, it appears to be one each in both the January and March subpoenas.
• The January subpoena seeks any communication any Kansas Athletics Department official had with any representative of Adidas, with which KU has a multimillion dollar apparel contract, and is in negotiations to sign an extension with the company. Prosecutors sought any signed or unsigned agreements KU has with Adidas.
• The January subpoena also seeks any communication KU athletics officials have had with: James Gatto, an Adidas executive who has been indicted in the alleged scheme; Merl Code, another shoe executive who also has been indicted; TJ Gassnola, an AAU coach who has plead guilty to paying family members of basketball players in order to gain commitments for certain colleges; and Christopher Rivers.
• The March subpoena seeks any documents or recordings related to an investigation into the eligibility of, presumably, at least one student-athlete. The subpoena seeks: “Any documents obtained from (redacted) or (redacted) in connection with any investigation of (redacted) eligibility.” The subpoena then makes a similar request, except, instead of documents, it seeks interview transcripts or recordings related to an eligibility investigation.
It is unclear how many documents or pieces of information KU officials turned over to federal prosecutors, or whether KU had information that was responsive to each order. Just because federal officials seek information from the university doesn’t mean such information actually exists, such as text messages or other documents.
In April, a federal indictment alleged that the mother of one KU recruit and the guardian of another KU recruit received tens of thousands of dollars as part of a scheme involving Adidas money and an AAU intermediary. The KU players were not named in the indictment, but descriptions in the indictment have led to speculation that they are former KU basketball player Billy Preston and current Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa. The indictments did not allege wrongdoing on the part of KU or its basketball staff.
KU has not publicly identified the players, and a university spokesman declined further comment about the subpoenas on Tuesday.
“These documents do not suggest any wrongdoing by the university,” Andy Hyland, a KU spokesman, said via email. “We are cooperating fully with investigators in this matter. Because this is an active investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
KU officials had tacitly confirmed last month to multiple media outlets that it had been subpoenaed in the federal investigation. But Tuesday was the first time the university released documents related to the subpoenas.