Board of Regents member wants KU explanation on issues related to college basketball corruption case

photo by: Nick Krug

The pregame men's basketball crowd at Allen Fieldhouse is shown in this file photo from Dec. 2, 2009.

A top official with the Kansas Board of Regents said he expects to receive an explanation about what a KU basketball coach meant when he was recorded on a phone call discussing a recruit and money.

Shane Bangerter, vice chair of the Board of Regents, said he’s been in communication with University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod about KU issues related to the recent federal trial involving corruption in college basketball recruiting.

Bangerter, though, said he still has some questions. The Journal-World specifically asked about a wiretapped phone conversation between KU assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend and Merl Code, a defendant who was found guilty of fraud charges related to the corruption case.

In that recording, Code told Townsend that in order to get prized recruit Zion Williamson to attend KU, it likely would require money and other inducements that are illegal under NCAA recruiting rules. According to a transcript of the call read as part of the trial proceedings, Townsend responded by saying: “I’ve just got to work and try to figure out a way because if that is what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

The full transcript of the call hasn’t been released, and the Department of Justice recently denied a Journal-World Freedom of Information Act request seeking any phone recordings involving Townsend.

Bangerter said he understood why members of the public would have questions about what Townsend meant.

“Certainly as a regent, I have the same questions and certainly would like answers and will be in full communication with the chancellor in that regard,” Bangerter said after Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting in Emporia.

The Journal-World asked Bangerter — who, as vice chair, was the highest-ranking regent official at the meeting since the board’s chair was absent — about the college basketball corruption case.

KU has provided no public explanation about Townsend’s comments, but the assistant coach remains active with the team. Last week, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long declined to comment on whether he had sought an explanation from Townsend. A spokesman for the chancellor’s office has not responded to an Oct. 29 email from the Journal-World seeking information about the matter. The spokesman also has not returned phone messages left with him over the last several days.

Bangerter said issues surrounding basketball recruiting allegations could have a negative impact on the university’s reputation, but he expressed confidence that KU leaders would address any issues appropriately.

“Obviously, the university’s image and KU Athletics’ image is extremely important to the university and the state as a whole,” said Bangerter, a Dodge City regent who graduated from KU’s law school. “Those entities, basketball in particular, have great people in place and procedures in place.

“That is not to say that you can’t make mistakes and people can do things that aren’t appropriate. The thing is to do what we can do to have the protections in place to protect the university and protect the program. I have full faith that those measures are in place and are being followed.”

Bangerter said he has also had conversations about whether the oversight of college athletic departments at the state’s regent universities should be modified. That discussion hasn’t reached the full board yet, and Bangerter said it is one he’s still contemplating.

“As an individual regent, I have had some conversations myself in regards to board oversight of athletics in general at our six regent universities and whether the level we currently have is appropriate,” Bangerter said. “Largely, the CEOs (presidents and chancellors) handle that responsibility and report to the board. I think that has worked well over the years, but I also want to make sure that I feel comfortable with that model.”

Bangerter said he did not expect the Board of Regents to become involved in the decision of whether KU should extend its multimillion-dollar sponsorship agreement with Adidas, which has now had three employees or consultants convicted in the case. Bangerter, though, said any agreement would be expected to comply with the Board of Regents’ policy regarding contracts that universities may enter into.

“We do have a policy in regards to contracts and the approval process,” Bangerter said. “It is pretty detailed in regards to how all that should work. A lot of the responsibility falls on the chancellor, and then, obviously, we hold the chancellor accountable.”

Coverage: College basketball corruption trial

Oct. 24 — How deeply will NCAA dig into KU’s recruiting? That question and others still loom after trial

Oct. 24 — In wake of basketball corruption trial’s verdict, Self says his staff has done nothing wrong

Oct. 24 — 3 convicted of fraud in college basketball corruption trial

Oct. 23 — Jury deliberates 2nd day with no verdict in college basketball corruption trial

Oct. 18 — Defense attorney argues Bill Self knew about payments to families of KU players

Oct. 16 — ‘If that’s what it takes’: KU assistant coach taped by feds discussing recruit’s demand for cash

Oct. 15 — ‘We good?’ ‘Always’: Texts between Self, fixer presented in college basketball corruption trial

Oct. 11 — Latest testimony in college basketball corruption trial goes into further details on KU’s involvement

Oct. 10 — Self declines to comment on testimony of former Adidas consultant; questions surface about KU compliance

Oct. 9 — Basketball player’s father: Louisville assistant gave cash

Oct. 4 — Father testifies on pay for play at college hoops programs

Oct. 3 — Witness details secret payments in college hoops recruiting

Oct. 2 — As college basketball corruption trial opens, attorney admits client paid $20K to get De Sousa to come to KU

More coverage: KU and the college basketball scandal

Nov. 7, 2018 — Report: FBI gives NCAA clearance to begin investigating some basketball programs in corruption scandal

Nov. 1, 2018 — Wiretapped phone call of KU coach may become part of NCAA inquiry; AD confirms NCAA hasn’t started on De Sousa review

Oct. 30, 2018 — KU now refuses to share info with public on $1.5M in Adidas payments; last week it said lack of personnel was reason for delay

Oct. 24, 2018 — KU says it’s evaluating options on Adidas contract, doesn’t answer whether it will conduct independent investigation of recruiting practices

Oct. 24, 2018 — KU cites lack of personnel for delay in providing records related to unexplained $1.5M in Adidas payments

Oct. 19, 2018 — Devoted KU basketball fans stand by their team; psychologists not at all surprised

Oct. 18, 2018 — Chancellor won’t say whether he still has ‘complete confidence’ that KU follows recruiting rules

Oct. 17, 2018 — As college basketball corruption trial comes to a close, KU could be facing several NCAA code violations

Oct. 12, 2018 — As allegations mount, KU mum about Adidas ties and extra $1.5M it has received from the company

Oct. 3, 2018 — KU’s De Sousa could be ruled ineligible, NCAA rules experts say; chances of vacating Final Four appearance less clear

Oct. 1, 2018 — Girod, other KU leaders listed as potential witnesses in college basketball corruption trial

July 24, 2018 — KU releases federal subpoenas in college basketball investigation

July 11, 2018 — KU coach Bill Self, new AD Jeff Long discussed ongoing FBI investigation during interview process

July 10, 2018 — KU acknowledges having received federal subpoena in ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball

July 6, 2018 — Report: Feds seeking more information regarding KU forward Silvio De Sousa

April 27, 2018 — Reports: AAU director linked to NCAA bribery case, KU families pleads guilty

April 23, 2018 — KU didn’t produce written report of recent examination of athletic department; chancellor saw no need for external report

April 13, 2018 — Former prosecutor: KU not in clear yet, but one past case provides hope

April 13, 2018 — Chancellor sees no need for independent investigation of KU Athletics in wake of indictment

April 10, 2018 — Employee of apparel company illegally paid 2 KU basketball players’ guardians, federal indictment alleges

Feb. 23, 2018 — Kansas linked to college basketball scandal in Yahoo Sports report

Nov. 28, 2017 — Multimillion-dollar KU-Adidas deal remains unsigned as investigation into Adidas executive continues

Oct. 20, 2017 — KU provides more details of NCAA-mandated basketball review, enlists law firm to help

Oct. 17, 2017 — Analysis: Understanding the legal case building against the college basketball world

Oct. 16, 2017 — Zenger: KU will comply with NCAA requirement of all schools to review basketball program

Sept. 26, 2017 — NCAA basketball coaches, Adidas executive among 10 charged in bribe scheme


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