The University of Kansas men’s basketball team is looking for a big bounce back year after a disappointing season that ended early last March. The Jayhawks lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and also did not win the regular season Big 12 Championship for the first time in 15 years. Things were looking up for KU at the start of training camp, as they return star big-man Silvio De Sousa back to the line-up. De Sousa’s host mother was accused of accepting at least $62,500 from a University of Maryland representative. Even though De Sousa committed to Kansas, these allegations would follow him to Lawrence.
De Sousa was accused of these allegations at the start of the 2018-2019 season. He was one of the main reasons the Hawks beat Duke in the Elite 8 the season before, so Bill Self and the Jayhawk faithful was excited to see what De Sousa would bring to the table. After the allegations came out, he could not play until a final decision was made by the NCAA. This is when everyone started to get mad. The NCAA did not make a decision throughout the first half of the year, and it sent an outrage out through the college basketball world. At first it was just a problem within the KU basketball team, but then it became a national story, and was all over ESPN as the NCAA kept dragging on their investigation. Social media started a campaign called #freesilvio, and the problem and corruption in the NCAA that we had all seen for years was now finally being brought to the forefront.
The NCAA did not make a decision on De Sousa’s eligibility until Feb. 1, and ruled him ineligible for the rest of the season, and into the 2019-2020 season. This is where we all drew the line. They waited all this time to make a decision, and then the decision they made was the wrong one. De Sousa had to appeal the suspension, which prompted another “investigation”. He won this appeal, which made him eligible for the upcoming season, but the damage was done. Any respect between the NCAA and Bill Self was gone. On Sept. 23, Self was flagged with even more allegations, dealing with De Sousa once again, and also former player Billy Preston, whom Self dismissed in the 2017-2018 season for disciplinary reasons. This time, the NCAA said that Self and his staff had direct knowledge of the payments that these players received, and Self and the University appealed immediately. We do not know the outcome of these new allegations yet.
As a life-long KU basketball fan, I’m obviously not happy with all of these allegations. It feels like they are targeting our program at this point. There has still been no evidence found that KU even knew about any of this, and more allegations keep piling up. In Silvio’s case, it wasn’t even him who took the money. That was my problem with his suspension: why is he getting suspended for something his host mother did?
While I could just rant about all of KU problems with the NCAA forever from a biased point of view, I have to look at this from an objective point of view. Now from this point of view, KU probably did have knowledge of these payments, and may or may not even encouraged it, but as of now there’s no evidence, so why is the NCAA making a big deal out of it. Just like in Silvio’s case, they couldn’t confirm the payments actually happened until February, but since there were “allegations” against him, he couldn’t play.
Now here’s my main problem with this: everyone does it. I’m willing to bet that any successful college basketball team has given money or known of payments to their best players. You think Duke just lands 3 top 10 recruits every year because they just love the culture there? No, they’re getting the bag. The problem we run into here are the shoe companies these schools are associated with. Duke and many other top schools are Nike schools, while KU is an Adidas school. Louisville is also an Adidas school, and they got in big trouble for paying players as well back in 2017. NC State, an Adidas school, are facing reparations for paying a large amount of money to now NBA player Dennis Smith Jr. So are Nike schools just better at cheating than Adidas schools? Are Adidas reps just dumber than the Nike reps? It’s silly to think that those are the only three schools paying players. If the NCAA wants to expose schools who are giving their players some cash, why are they just focusing on a couple of schools. I bet if they spent 3 weeks really investigating Duke, they could uncover all of the payments they’ve made. You cannot convince me that Zion Williamson, the most hyped-up rookie since LeBron James, went to Duke without receiving anything. I think this is why KU is upset, and what argument they should use in court when and if they go there. Stop focusing on us, and look at the grand scheme of things, and how all of these successful programs are giving their players some pocket change.
The only reason this is happening in the first place is because the NCAA has been so strict on their rule of these players not receiving any money whatsoever. This was until last week, when they came out with a new rule that will allow players to benefit off of their image and likeness. This still does not mean they will be getting paid a whole lot of money, but it is at least a step in the right direction. Bottom line is the NCAA system of not letting players receive any money is broken and has caused corruption within college basketball. They need to keep coming up with new rules that allow the players to benefit off of their talents and be able to cash in on the extreme amount of revenue that college basketball produces. If they fail to do this, then schools will keep making under-the-table payments to players, and corruption will continue to grow. If you want to keep investigating Kansas, fine, but investigate Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, and all of the other programs doing the same thing.