KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas’ much-anticipated response to the college basketball corruption trial verdicts offered a vote of confidence for the university’s current men’s basketball program but little else.
Former Adidas executives James “Jim” Gatto and Merl Code and aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins were all found guilty Wednesday afternoon of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the conclusion of a federal trial in New York prosecuting illicit under-the-table payments to steer top college basketball recruits to specific universities.
Ensnared in the proceedings as the defense tried to prove the universities were aware of the wrongdoings and therefore couldn’t be “defrauded” as the prosecution was alleging, KU and head coach Bill Self have refused to speak on the day-to-day revelations at the trial, which included text messages appearing to show Self and his staff were at least aware of Adidas runner Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola’s involvement with Jayhawk-targeted recruits. Gassnola testified under oath that KU’s coaches were unaware of his actions.
In a letter addressed to the "Jayhawk community" released shortly after the verdicts, chancellor Douglas Girod and athletic director Jeff Long said KU remains “unable to fully comment on the issues before us” due to respect for the integrity of pending federal trials set for February and April 2019. The pair did, however, say they “remain fully supportive” of KU’s athletes, coaches and men’s basketball program.
“Coach Self and Kansas Athletics are committed to maintaining a culture of compliance, and we will continue these efforts,” Girod and Long wrote. “Kansas Athletics has been, and will continue to be, committed to excellence and integrity.”
Moving forward, KU will await guidance from prosecutors to determine the university’s next move and seek Justice Department clearance to work with the NCAA “to vigorously review new information presented during the trial.” KU will also continue to review the eligibility of all its athletes, the letter read, presumably including indefinitely withheld sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa, though he wasn’t mentioned by name.
Perhaps most newsworthy is the letter’s comment on KU’s relationship with Adidas, a partnership set to expire at the end of this school year. The two sides announced a 12-year, $191 million extension in September 2017 but have been mum on the contract’s status since news of the federal government’s probe into college basketball corruption and the apparel giant’s role in the scandal broke later that very month.
Girod and Long said KU has “made no decision regarding a long-term contract extension” with Adidas and will continue to evaluate its options with no timetable for a decision.
“A strong apparel partnership is important and beneficial to all our student athletes and our institution,” Girod and Long wrote, “and we will take great care in making the right decision for KU.”
Self has scheduled a 7 p.m. Wednesday news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. This is a developing story. Check back later for more updates.