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KU suspends Hall of Fame coach Bill Self over alleged basketball recruiting violations

Bill Self, Kurtis Townsend, Marques Pettigrew
Orlin Wagner
Kansas men's basketball head coach Bill Self, left, is held by assistant coach Kurtis Townsend after being called for a technical foul during a 2018 game against Louisiana Lafayette. On Wednesday, Kansas suspended Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and top assistant Kurtis Townsend for the first four games of the season, along with imposing several recruiting restrictions, as part of the fallout from a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

The self-imposed sanctions stem from an NCAA investigation that began in 2017, but has yet to be resolved. Self and an assistant will miss the team's first four regular-season games.

This is a developing story and could be updated.

While awaiting a decision by the NCAA’s independent review panel, the University of Kansas took a preemptive strike by self-imposing penalties that include suspensions for men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend.

Self and Townsend will sit out the first four games of the 2022-23 season, starting with the Nov. 7 regular-season opener against Omaha. The Jayhawks are the defending NCAA Division I national champions.

“We are hopeful these difficult self-imposed sanctions will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion,” said KU Athletics Director Travis Goff in a statement released Wednesday.

KU has been awaiting a final decision by the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process since 2017. The NCAA’s allegations date back to the recruitment of former basketball player Silvio DeSouza, who has since transferred to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The NCAA has charged KU with five major violations, including lack of institutional control under Self.

Other penalties that the university imposed include:

  • The absence of Self and Townsend from all off-campus recruiting-related activities from April through July 2022.
  • The reduction of four official visits during this academic year and in 2023-24.
  • The reduction of three total scholarships in men’s basketball, to be spread out over the next three years.
  • A six-week ban on recruiting communications, a six-week ban on unofficial visits and a thirteen-day reduction in the number of permissible recruiting days during the 2022-23 calendar year.
  • No official visits for 2022 Late Night in the Phog, which occurred in October.

Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel told KCUR that, until announcing the penalties Wednesday, KU had maintained a combative approach to the NCAA’s allegations — an approach Wetzel believed would catch up to the program.
“It was a strategy to do it,” said Wetzel, who has written extensively about corruption in college basketball, “but it was never rooted in any sense of reality or how these things play out.”

KU chancellor Doug Girod said in a written statement that KU will have more to say after the IARP makes its final ruling.

In the same written release, Self said, “Coach Townsend and I accept and support KU’s decision to self-impose these sanctions.”

Assistant coach Norm Roberts will take over as interim head coach while Self and Townsend are sidelined. Self will rejoin the team for an early-season tournament trip to the Bahamas, beginning on Nov. 23. Their first tournament opponent, North Carolina State, is also awaiting a decision from the IARP panel.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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