Wiretapped phone call of KU coach may become part of NCAA inquiry; AD confirms NCAA hasn’t started on De Sousa review

photo by: Nick Krug

In this file photo from Dec. 29, 2017, Kansas forward Silvio DeSousa talks with KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend prior to tipoff against Texas at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said Thursday that a wiretapped phone conversation where a KU coach and an Adidas representative discussed the possibility of paying a recruit may be part of a future “inquiry” with the NCAA.

But Long left unclear whether he has done anything to already ascertain what the intentions were of KU assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend when he was caught on tape with Adidas representative Merl Code discussing inducements that might have to be given to attract a top recruit.

In a federal fraud trial in New York last month, a defense attorney for Code read from a transcript of a recorded phone conversation between Code and Townsend. According to the transcript, after Code told Townsend that top recruit Zion Williamson was seeking inducements of money, housing for family members and other items prohibited by NCAA rules, Townsend said: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way. Because if that’s what it takes to get him for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”

On Thursday, Long noted the actual recording wasn’t played in court but rather the only information has been from a transcript. When asked whether KU ever would provide the public with an explanation about what Townsend meant by that response, Long said: “It was read from a document. I have not seen that document. I don’t know the validity of that document. We hope we’ll be able to see that information and use it in our inquiry with the NCAA.”

When asked whether he had asked Townsend what he meant by the comments, Long said, “I can’t say any more than what I just said.”

Townsend continues to coach for the Jayhawks, and head coach Bill Self previously has said that none of Townsend’s recruiting duties have been curtailed after the information surfaced at trial.

Long was asked whether he was concerned that absent an explanation, Townsend’s comments would be broadly interpreted by the public as a sign that KU had a coach who was willing to break a fundamental NCAA rule prohibiting the payment of players.

“That might be your view, but that is not mine, and I can’t comment any further,” Long said.

Long also declined to comment on whether he thought an independent investigation of KU’s basketball recruiting practices was warranted.

The Journal-World questioned Long after he spoke at a University Senate meeting, where he discussed the athletic department’s role in the larger university. In his comments to the group, Long said there is work yet to do with the NCAA on compliance issues. But he also said the timing of that work was uncertain. Two more federal trials related to college basketball corruption issues are set for early next year, and those federal prosecutions may impact the speed at which the NCAA would undertake any investigations into compliance issues.

“We are continuing to wait for the Department of Justice to clear us to pursue some things from an NCAA compliance standard,” Long said. “We are standing by waiting for the go-ahead. We will pursue that. We will work with the NCAA. We will work very hard to get to the bottom of it. Should we find things that are inappropriate, we will act upon them in a way that you would expect us to.”

Long also briefly touched on the decision to withhold sophomore Silvio De Sousa from competition until certain questions can be resolved. Testimony in the trial included an admission by an Adidas representative that De Sousa’s guardian had been paid $2,500 for online courses for De Sousa, and allegations that the guardian accepted a larger payment from a University of Maryland booster.

Long said he decided holding De Sousa out of competition would be the “prudent” action. He said KU hopes to work with the NCAA to resolve any eligibility questions, but said the NCAA has not begun to work on the matter.

“We are working with the NCAA when they let us know they are ready to work on it,” Long said. “We have not heard from them. We are waiting to hear from them.”

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

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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