Depositions in Beaty lawsuit can be part of KU infractions case, NCAA committee chair says; decision could affect basketball case, too

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, center, stands along the sidelines before kickoff with Chancellor Douglas Girod, right, on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at Memorial Stadium.

KU has lost a ruling in its NCAA infractions case related to evidence involving its former football coach, and the ruling ultimately may play a role in the higher-stakes case against the men’s basketball program.

Depositions from University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long and two former football assistant coaches taken as part of former football coach David Beaty’s lawsuit against KU over his firing can be part of KU’s NCAA infractions case, a newly released ruling from the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions shows.

The April 21 ruling — obtained late Wednesday by the Journal-World — from committee chair Carol Cartwright, addressed to KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, states that relevant sworn testimony from Long and former KU assistant coaches A.J. Ricker and Garrett Riley can be considered as evidence in the case surrounding KU’s alleged NCAA violations — which also includes serious allegations against the men’s basketball program.

The significant ruling also sets a precedent that may play a key role in how the allegations against the KU men’s basketball team are adjudicated, relying on a rarely used 2018 NCAA bylaw that says evidence in court cases can be used in determining infractions cases.

It also may allow a deposition from a former Adidas official who was at the center of the 2017 federal fraud case — and who is scheduled to be deposed in Beaty’s litigation — to be included in the evidence against the school.

Acting on a tip, the Journal-World on April 30 filed a Kansas Open Records Act request with KU for any communications the university or athletics department had received from the committee. After several delays, which the university attributed to the “scope of the request requiring further assessment,” the newspaper received the three-page ruling late Wednesday.

In it, Cartwright highlighted the positions of Beaty, KU and the NCAA enforcement staff itself as to whether the depositions should be included in Kansas’ case:

• Beaty and his legal team argued that the depositions give credence to his argument that Long and KU “concocted” low-level charges against him to justify not paying a $3 million buyout when Beaty was fired in November 2018. Beaty is accused of knowingly allowing more coaches than are permitted under NCAA rules to provide instruction to players.

• KU’s outside legal team argued that the depositions should not be included, as Long, Ricker and Riley were already interviewed as part of the infractions case.

• The NCAA staff argued that the depositions shouldn’t be considered as staff didn’t have the ability to be present during the questioning, Cartwright wrote.

The arguments from the three parties were not included in the materials the Journal-World received, but were described in Cartwright’s ruling.

Cartwright ultimately concluded that Beaty had the right to include the deposition material since the “nature and timing of the information” could prove relevant to his defense. She also dismissed KU’s argument that the depositions weren’t relevant since the parties were already interviewed in the case.

“Whether interviews were already conducted doesn’t necessarily impact the pertinence of information in depositions,” she wrote.

Ricker’s and Riley’s deposition transcripts have not yet been made public in Beaty’s case, but Long’s 400-plus-page deposition was unsealed in March. In the deposition, Beaty’s lawyers argued that Long had used different standards in evaluating alleged violations under Beaty’s watch versus those under current coach Les Miles — as well as basketball coach Bill Self.

KU Athletics has argued that the violations it self-reported under Miles were different from those committed under Beaty, as Beaty allegedly knew about the violations, and what happened under Miles’ watch was “inadvertent,” the Journal-World previously reported.

Cartwright’s decision also sets a precedent that may play a key role in how the allegations against the KU men’s basketball team are adjudicated. The Journal-World previously reported that a key factor in the Committee on Infractions ruling would be whether it considers evidence from related trials.

An NCAA bylaw passed in 2018 allows evidence previously introduced in court to be included in its enforcement process and infractions decisions, as long as the facts are established by a decision or judgment and are not under appeal.

The bylaw is so new that it hasn’t yet been practically applied to an NCAA infractions case, but Cartwright’s interpretation of it could pave the way for court evidence to be used not only in KU’s case, but also in infractions cases involving North Carolina State University and the University of Memphis.

Cartwright called on that bylaw — Failure or Refusal to Participate in Interview — in her ruling, saying that the evidence could be admitted, and panels could consider that evidence even if there is no final judgement in the case. Even if KU, Beaty and the NCAA disagree on whether the depositions can be used — which they do — Cartwright said it could still be admitted as general evidence in KU’s violations case.

“Panels, however, must still assess and weigh the credibility of the information — considering the absence of the enforcement staff from the depositions — as they would any other information in the record,” the ruling reads.

The interpretation of the rule could come into play later for the men’s basketball program, as Beaty’s lawyers in the suit against KU have signaled they intend to depose former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola. Gassnola is the central figure in KU’s alleged misconduct and was at the center of the 2017 federal trial involving Adidas and pay-for-play scandals at various schools.

A KU Athletics spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

The timeline for the adjudication of KU’s infractions case is still unclear. The case has been referred to an independent panel called the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, but the council has not yet publicly stated whether it will hear the case.

The IARP has confirmed it will hear infractions cases involving programs at the University of Memphis and North Carolina State University. The decisions from the panel, unlike those from the Committee on Infractions, are final and not subject to appeal.

Contact Conner Mitchell

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