Kansas men’s basketball vacates 2018 Final Four, escapes serious penalty after 6-year NCAA investigation

The University of Kansas men’s basketball team will have to vacate its 2018 Final Four but otherwise escaped serious penalty after a six-year NCAA investigation finally reached its conclusion Wednesday.

The Jayhawks’ case initially began with the FBI’s case against college basketball, back in September 2017. The FBI accused KU of an alleged pay-for-play scheme involving Adidas consultant T.J. Gasnola and Adidas executive Jim Gatto funneling money to former Jayhawks Billy Preston and Silvio DeSousa.

In May 2020, the university agreed to turn the case over to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, an independent arm started by the NCAA to hear complex cases.

The NCAA originally charged Kansas with five Level I violations. In its decision, however, the IRP found Kansas to have committed less egregious Level II and Level III violations. The IRP argued Kansas’ actions were not “premeditated, deliberate or committed after substantial planning because Kansas lacked knowledge of the payments.” The program was placed on three years probation.

The IRP also accepted Kansas’ four-game self-imposed suspension of head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Curtis Townsend, opting not to penalize either any further.

The panel, however, deemed DeSousa ineligible for the games in which he appeared during the 2017-18 season. That includes a national semifinal game against Villanova, which KU lost, 95-79. As part of its penalty, Kansas will have to remove its Final Four banner. The vacation of games in which DeSousa played also means KU dips below Kentucky as the winningest program in history. KU went 15-5 in games with DeSousa, dropping the Jayhawks seven games behind the Wildcats, 2377-2370.

The case is the last for the IARP, which has been shuttered after four years in existence, and closes the book on the schools initially named in the FBI investigation in September 2017.

(Photo: Denny Medley / USA Today)

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