Earlier this week, new developments (well, indictments, though those are technically developments) broke in the ongoing federal probe of college basketball corruption involving athletic companies, prospects, and cash. The main news: Kansas and North Carolina State are now embroiled in the official proceedings.
There was an update in the ongoing federal investigation into the allegedly corrupt payments between Adidas, players, and player handlers that has hung over college basketball for months now.
The Department of Justice released new charges that served to reinforce prior allegations against Louisville and Miami, while adding Kansas and North Carolina State to the list of schools who should probably be worried about potential NCAA sanctions in the near future.
Kansas, though, is apparently taking a different message to heart: that they were the victims. That might sound kind of funny; the idea that the schools have been defrauded by players and apparel companies and agents while the school reaps in more revenue and reward than any of them. But, technically, the indictment does support it a bit. From today’s Yahoo column by Pat Forde:
The federal indictment does not allege any knowledge of the schemes or participation in them by Kansas — hence the school’s stance that it has been harmed by alleged illegal deals behind its back.
The feds provided support for Kansas’ claim within their indictment, which reads in part: “The alleged objects of the conspiracy remain the same, namely, to defraud the victim-universities by (1) causing them to issue athletic scholarships under the false pretense that the student-athletes receiving this athletic based financial aid were eligible to compete in NCAA athletics, and (2) depriving those universities of their right to control their assets while further exposing them to the risk of tangible economic harm in the form of NCAA fines and penalties, among other things.”
Which, okay, sure! Technically speaking, an indictment has to have a victim. But the central theme that no one at the university is in any way complicit is laughable, for just about all of these schools. It’s more palatable, sure, to say Bill Self is shocked, SHOCKED to find out about potential oddities in recruiting, but how do they do that and expect us to believe it? Especially considering multiple assistants at other programs have already been charged.
As Forde notes, this isn’t Kansas’s first recruiting violation rodeo in recent years, either:
But that stance becomes more debatable within the context of other recent events involving Kansas basketball players. The larger issue for the school and its highly successful head coach, Bill Self, is that this is merely the latest potential “victimization” of a program that has had major potential NCAA compliance problems arise with four different players in the past 38 months.
Forde then details the various problems with the eligibility of Cliff Alexander, Josh Jackson, Billy Preston, and Silvio De Souza, a run of top-level players that have all in one way or another faced questions both with regards to this probe and/or other incidents. By this logic, Bill Self must fall for the Nigerian Prince email scam a few times a week.
There’s also this, as Forde notes: Kansas, which is taking the line they’ve been defrauded by various other entities including representatives for Adidas, is negotiating an extension with Adidas.
Yet despite being allegedly victimized by Adidas, the school remains in negotiations to complete a 12-year, $191 million contract extension with the apparel company. Girod gave Kansas an out, however, in a statement to Yahoo Sports: “We constantly evaluate our arrangements with partners and sponsors. Like universities across the country, we will continue to monitor the situation, evaluate new information, and make decisions that are in the best interest of our university and our students.”
It would be an awkward business relationship with a company that just victimized a university — if, that is, you buy the victim response that touched a nerve nationwide.
Forde’s entire piece is very much worth the read, as it contains numerous quotes (both anonymous and attributed) from people all over the game who are bothered by the Kansas approach here. And that makes all the sense in the world. It’s just so brazen; it’s not just a denial of wrongdoing, but a plea for sympathy. And no matter how you feel about the current NCAA system, that particular line of defense is pretty laughable.