Tom Keegan: Jury rules Adidas defrauds KU, strangely happy news for ‘victims’
photo by: Nick Krug
Kansas City, Mo. — Adidas, apparel partner of the University of Kansas athletic department, was found guilty of defrauding the university, and it was the best news the nation’s No. 1-ranked college basketball program had heard in months.
It was this type of trial: You find out it has been determined that your business partner went behind your back to break rules and the first thing you want to do is find a private area where you can do back flips to celebrate the good news.
Plus, for the moment at least, KU has no plans to wriggle free from its lucrative exclusive arrangement with Adidas.
The federal government set out to portray Kansas as a victim of Adidas, which paid money to representatives of two basketball players who were freshmen a year ago to steer them to Bill Self’s perennial national-powerhouse basketball team.
By doing so, Adidas stripped Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa of their amateur status and therefore victimized Kansas. We’re back to where we started with the nation’s top basketball program painted as the victim.
If you’re looking for KU’s rescuing hero here, turn to T.J. Gassnola, a former AAU director and Adidas consultant with a criminal past. Gassnola testified under penalty of perjury that KU’s coaches knew nothing of the payments. If this were a Western, Gassnola, black cowboy hat atop his head, would come riding in on a stolen horse to save the day.
A statement released under the names of KU chancellor Douglas Girod and athletic director Jeff Long celebrated the athletic department’s purity, saying, in part, “We remain fully supportive of our student-athletes, our coaches and our men’s basketball program. Coach Self and Kansas Athletics are committed to maintaining a culture of compliance, and we will continue these efforts. Kansas Athletics has been, and will continue to be, committed to excellence and integrity.”
Perhaps the folks on the hill could conduct training sessions with Adidas officials to teach them how to comply with said culture of compliance. If, that is, Kansas decides to sign off on the extension. The joint statement said that decision hasn’t been made.
The verdict arrived roughly four-and-a-half hours after Self revealed that Silvio De Sousa will not play in KU’s exhibition opener vs. Emporia State because of “recent developments within the trial” that necessitated a joint eligibility review conducted by KU and the NCAA.
The “recent developments” might refer to Gassnola’s testimony that he paid De Sousa’s guardian Fenny Falmagne $2,500 to pay for online classes so that he could graduate from IMG Academy to enroll at Kansas. Gassnola also testified that he had agreed to pay Falmagne $20,000 to help him to repay a Maryland booster who had paid Falmagne $60,000 for De Sousa to go to Maryland, but never did pay him because news had broken about the FBI investigation.
This is all important stuff for you to know in case you stumble on a GoFundMe account entitled, “Every Penny Helps Fenny.” If Fenny can find six million donors to donate a penny apiece, he can repay the Maryland booster. I for one would hate to see any of these fine, upstanding men get beaten out of a cent for all they do for youngsters.