Men's Basketball vs. Oklahoma-15.jpg

Coach Bill Self walks to his team during a timeout in the game against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks defeated the Sooners 87-70 Saturday, Feb. 15.

With ongoing NCAA investigations of the Kansas men’s basketball and football programs, the University of Kansas requested Monday the two cases be handled by separate processes.

Both KU and the NCAA concur the newly founded Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) should handle the men’s basketball investigation, according to documents released on the University’s public affairs website. However, the University said the allegations against its football program don't meet “the legislated requirements for referral to the IARP.”

Instead, KU suggests the traditional Committee of Infractions (COI) handle the football team’s case. According to the University, the separation of processes will “result in the most effective, fair and efficient resolution of the allegations.”

“The type of violations that KU self-reported in football are regularly processed through the peer review model, and therefore, the COI is best positioned to resolve any remaining issues and to do so in a prompt manner,” KU said in its response. “The [Amended Notice of Allegations] includes two very different cases involving the University’s men’s basketball and football programs that are unnecessarily coupled together. 

“There is no legislated requirement that disparate allegations must be processed in the same case for a member institution,” KU continued in its response.   

In September 2019, KU was charged with five Level I violations, including a lack of institutional control, against the men’s basketball team — the most severe penalty against a program. The football team was charged with two Level II violations and one Level III violation under former head coach David Beaty. Separately, Kansas Athletics recently reached a financial settlement with Beaty for $2.55 million after previously not paying Beaty’s contract buyout.

KU, men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and men’s basketball assistant coach Kurtis Townsend are disputing each of the five Level I violations regarding the men’s basketball program’s relationship with Adidas. 

Kansas Athletics signed a 14-year, $196 million apparel and sponsorship deal with Adidas in April 2019. The NCAA has alleged Adidas and its employees as boosters for the men’s basketball program and that the sponsor gave improper benefits to recruits. 

Carol Cartwright, chair designee for the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, cited numerous policy issues in the NCAA’s referral petition and referred to the “high stakes” involved in the cases. She cited “major policy issues” such as a lack of self-governance, “perceived misconduct,” and “potential confidentiality breaches.”

“The COI is not influenced by public pressures or comments by NCAA executives,” Cartwright said. “Independent adjudication, however, eliminates any perception of undue influence.” 

Self, Townsend respond

Self and Townsend also released statements in response through their respective lawyers. Self’s lawyers Scott Tompsett and William M. Sullivan, Jr. said the COI’s petition “does not fairly and accurately recount the case history and background,” and mischaracterized Self in the petition. 

“For the COI, prior to a hearing, to attempt to force parties into “accepting responsibility” for violations they robustly contest indicates a lack of neutrality that is alarming and should disqualify that body from adjudicating the case,” Tompsett and Sullivan, Jr. said. “Accordingly, Mr. Self believes the only option going forward is for the case to be referred to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP).”

And while the IARP does not currently have an appeal process in place, Tompsett and Sullivan, Jr. said Self agrees to comply with the IARP “as a result of the numerous infirmities in the COI process.”

Townsend’s attorney Stuart L. Brown pointed to concerns over the lack of an appellate process in his response. However, Brown said Townsend will “continue to fully, earnestly, and timely cooperate” with the new process.

“It is clear to Kurtis that the COI prefers not to hear or decide the Kansas case,” Brown said. “Kurtis is concerned that if he objects to the case being referred to the [IARP] and the COI is subsequently required to hear the case despite its contrary preference then the COI may be predisposed against him.”

With KU opting to split the two cases, there is no set timetable for a decision on either.

“As part of this commitment to fairness, the infractions process must ensure that legislation is applied and interpreted consistently, and in accord with the regular application of the rules to all member institutions and coaches,” KU said.