KU basketball team gets 3-year probation for NCAA violations; some wins vacated

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Post last updated at 4:37 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11:

The University of Kansas men’s basketball team has been ordered to vacate 15 victories and its NCAA FInal Four appearance from its record for the 2017-2018 season as the result of a six-year investigation of recruiting infractions. The team also was put on probation for three years, a disciplinary panel ruled Wednesday.

The removal of the 15 victories from the official record books means that Kansas no longer is the winningest basketball program in NCAA history, leaving it seven wins behind the University of Kentucky Wildcats. The banner commemorating the 2017-2018 Final Four season will be removed from the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, coach Bill Self said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Kansas avoided more severe penalties in the long investigation, which stemmed from an FBI probe into college recruiting practices. NCAA Level I charges against Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend — which could have resulted in long-term suspensions or other penalties — were downgraded to a Level III charge for Self and to Level II and III charges for Townsend.

Kurtis Townsend

​​“I’m very happy that it’s over,” Self said at the news conference. “I’m certainly happy with the end results, and at the same time don’t feel like a celebration mode, because this is exactly what we felt the end result would be years ago. … I am eager to move forward without this cloud hovering over our program.” 

Self said the ongoing uncertainty around the case over the past six years “sucked, but over the course of 35 years don’t you expect to have some period of times that aren’t that great? … I would say the unknown was probably as much of a penalty as anything, going a period of time that we did without knowing how to address it or how to attack it.”

Self and Townsend had served university-imposed four-game suspensions to start the 2022–23 season and were restricted from recruiting activities for a period of time, but the panel ruling imposed no additional penalties on either coach.

Travis Goff, director of athletics, said Wednesday the self-imposed penalties probably exceeded NCAA guidelines and were imposed last year “in the spirit of wanting to move forward.”

Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff speaks to the media during a press conference on Oct. 11, 2023. (Screenshot / KU Athletics YouTube)

Kansas and the NCAA haggled for six years over the outcome of the case, which began with a highly publicized 2017 FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that implicated the program in pay-for-play allegations involving potential recruits and the Adidas sports apparel company. 

Former KU players Silvio de Sousa and Billy Preston were tied to tens of thousands of dollars in illicit payments from Adidas representatives T.J. Gassnola and James Gatto. Self and Townsend denied knowing about the payments.


KU asserted that it was a victim of Gassnola and Gatto’s crimes, and the jury in the corruption case found that Gassnola and Gatto had concealed the payments from KU and its coaches. 

Ultimately, the NCAA case was decided by an Independent Accountability Resolution Process panel in place of the normal, often-harsher NCAA disciplinary process. The IARP decision cannot be appealed, but the process was so cumbersome and time-consuming that it has been scrapped for future cases. Wednesday’s decision on the Kansas case marks the dissolution of the panel.

The case had raised the possibility of serious NCAA penalties for the KU basketball program. KU was accused of five Level I charges, which carried potential penalties including postseason bans for the team and an extended suspension for Self. 

Instead, in addition to putting KU on probation, the IARP ordered KU to vacate all of its wins in which de Sousa participated in the 2017-2018 season, including the postseason NCAA tournament, where the team lost in the national semifinal round to Villanova. Preston did not play any regular-season games for the Jayhawks.

Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self speaks to the media during a press conference on Oct. 11, 2023. (Screenshot / KU Athletics YouTube)

With the removal of the 2017-2018 victories, Kansas is now second on the all-time list to Kentucky. The Jayhawks were entering the upcoming season eight wins ahead of the Wildcats — 2,385 to 2,377 — for the all-time winningest program. Removing 15 victories puts KU seven behind UK.


The vacated wins also reduce Self’s lifetime coaching record to 772-237 from 787-237.

“I’ll make one thing clear: The penalties that were imposed today were basically the vacation of wins,” Self said. “The three years probation and the other penalties that have been discussed were self-imposed penalties.”


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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.

Mark Potts (he/him) is a former reporter and editor for the Associated Press, San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post.

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