LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NCAA’s infractions case against the University of Kansas men’s basketball program has been accepted into a newly created independent investigation process that was created to handle especially complex cases.
The Infractions Referral Committee said Wednesday that the case against the Jayhawks and coach Bill Self would go through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. The approval is the first significant step in a process that was created in August 2018 to deal with select cases and minimize perceived conflicts of interest.
Kansas has been accused by the NCAA of committing five Level I violations, which are considered the most egregious, as part of the fallout of an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. The case hinges on whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters when two of them arrange payments to prospective recruits.
The case against Kansas is the third to be accepted by the review panel. The NCAA’s case against James Wiseman and Memphis was the first and four violations involving North Carolina State and ex-coach Mark Gottfried was the second.
Kansas administrators believe the independent review process is their best chance of getting the charges levied by the NCAA dismissed. For one thing, it eliminates the governing body from the decision — both Kansas and the NCAA have been trading emotionally charged barbs for months. For another, it puts the case in the hands of legal experts chosen from a 15-member pool, rather than the typical committee on infraction comprised of longtime sports administrators.
That expertise is important because the school is trying to make the legal argument that Adidas representatives, whom Kansas has acknowledged paid prospects and their representatives, should not be considered boosters.
Yet the IARP also comes with significant risk: There are no appeals once its decision is handed down.
The process does not preclude Self or the university from taking other legal action, though. Self’s attorney recently sent a notice of claims and request to preserve evidence to the NCAA in anticipation of a potential lawsuit.
“Without limiting Mr. Self’s claims, he is considering bringing legal action against the NCAA and NCAA officers, employees and representatives for negligence, breach of contract, defamation, fraud, tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective contract,” attorney Scott Tompsett wrote. “To put it bluntly, the NCAA enforcement staff is attempting to end Mr. Self’s long and very successful coaching career for conduct which all coaches engage in and which the NCAA has known for many years is commonplace and permissible.”
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