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The Kansas Jayhawks have just hoisted the national championship trophy over their heads, but that excitement may be short-lived as an NCAA investigation into college basketball corruption may be nearing conclusion.
The University of Kansas was included on a list of schools in a 2017 FBI case alleging bribes were paid to lure top recruits to elite programs. And payments were made to coaches to refer young players to financial and business advisers, according to then-US attorney Joon Kim of the Southern District of New York.
“Coaches at some of the country’s top programs solicit and accept cash bribes; managers and financial advisers surround top prospects like coyotes; and employees at one of the biggest sportswear in the world is secretly funneling money to the families of high school recruits,” Kim said in 2017.
Federal agents initially arrested 10 people, including former NBA star Chuck Person.
The FBI investigation led the NCAA to allege five Level I violations – which amount to serious misconduct – against the Kansas men’s basketball program in September 2019, including head coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend. The allegations related to payments made by representatives of Adidas, the school’s clothing sponsor, to potential KU recruits.
The NCAA announced in July 2020 that the matter would be dealt with through the Independent Liability Resolution Process (IARP). As part of this process, an independent resolution committee, made up of five independent members from law, higher education and/or sport, would hear the case and decide on sanctions. The IARP does not have an appeals process.
The University of Kansas spent more than $3 million defending itself
Kansas has vigorously defended the program and its two coaches, spending more than $3 million to defend against NCAA violations, KCUR reported.
KU officials claim that Adidas representatives “intentionally concealed ineligible payments from the University and its coaching staff. The University has never denied that these ineligible payments were made,” said the university in a statement released in 2020 in response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations.
“The University would absolutely accept liability if it believed violations had occurred, as we have demonstrated with other self-reported violations,” the school said. He said KU and its leaders “strongly support Coach Self, its staff, and our men’s basketball program, as well as our strong compliance program.”
The school further showed its support for its head coach by awarding Self a rolling, five-year, $5.41 million deal that automatically adds a year to the end of each season, making it a one-time deal. life.
“For nearly 20 years, Coach Self has embodied the spirit and tradition of the University of Kansas, leading our men’s basketball program to a national championship, 15 Big 12 titles and 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. We believe in Coach Self and we believe in the future of our program under his leadership, and we are excited that he will continue to be a Jayhawk for the remainder of his coaching career,” said the University of Kansas chancellor. , Doug Girod, in a statement released at the time of the contract.
Self’s new contract included a clause stating that KU “shall not terminate the head coach for cause for any pending breach involving conduct that occurred on or before the date of full performance of this agreement.” . It also states that if the coach is suspended by the NCAA or the Big 12 “as a result of an ongoing NCAA infraction case,” he would lose half his salary for the duration of the suspension.
Kansas faces penalties, including being kicked out of next year’s NCAA Tournament
What punishment the IARP can inflict is anyone’s guess. It could be anything from a slap on the wrist to banning the current national champions from next year’s NCAA Tournament.
What is certain is that the process has been painfully slow, with NCAA President Mark Emmert telling reporters at a Final Four press conference that it took “far too long”.
The question is whether the violations uncovered in the FBI investigation would still be illegal if they had occurred in 2022. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that college athletes could profit from their name, image and likeness in what is now known. as NIL treats.
A Supreme Court ruling has opened the door to player endorsement deals
The March Madness 2022 tournament was the first in which these NIL deals allowed athletes to leverage their popularity in deals ranging from local restaurants in their college towns to big national brands like Gatorade and Adidas – the company at the center of the tournament. 2017 survey.
Brands are expected to spend nearly $600 million on NIL contracts by the one-year anniversary of the NCAA policy change in July, according to a recent white paper from the Front Office Sports site and Opendorse, a consultancy that tracks value. brand potential of athletes. across the NIL universe.
These expenses are expected to run into the billions, ushering in a new era of financial opportunity for the nearly half a million student-athletes competing in NCAA sports – the majority of whom do not benefit. sports scholarships.
In the past, athletes could have lost scholarships or given up their college playing careers by taking advantage of their name, image and likeness. Now they have a new way to help fund their education – athletes like those who received money as alleged in the FBI investigation.
It remains unclear if the new landscape will influence the IARP’s decision regarding Kansas, but what is certain is that a new era in college sports has emerged.