LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - "We continue to stand behind our student-athletes when we believe they have been wronged."
Minutes before his 11th-ranked basketball team would try to bounce back from losing three of its last four games against No. 16 Texas Tech, Kansas athletics director Jeff Long then choked up with emotion. He continued to passionately defend Silvio De Sousa following the NCAA's decision on Friday to rule the sophomore ineligible for the rest of this season and next season, meeting with reporters before the Jayhawks' Saturday matchup with the Red Raiders.
"I remain profoundly disappointed at the NCAA's decision, which effectively takes away the college basketball career from a young man who did nothing wrong," Long said. "I've been involved in college athletics for many years and at many institutions and have always respected the NCAA and trusted the process.
"But I must tell you my faith has been shaken. I know that Chancellor Girod and Bill Self share my frustrations."
Long explained what Kansas went through in the attempted reinstatement process of De Sousa, whom the NCAA ruled ineligible due to his guardian receiving "payment from a university booster and agent."
During something he said took more than three months, the first-year Jayhawk athletics director said the NCAA would only consider reinstatement if Kansas did two things: declare De Sousa ineligible and identify T.J. Gassnola, who testified in the Adidas trial, "as an agent and a booster of our program only as a hypothetical."
Long believed the hypothetical part had to be included to move forward with a reinstatement attempt, but did not give much explanation as to what it meant.
"As they looked into potential NCAA violations regarding individuals associated with Silvio, we provided them with every witness, every document and every piece of communication that they requested," Long said. "We kept pressing them for answers on Silvio's eligibility, so he could get back on the court where we felt like he belonged, even if it meant he had to serve a penalty before coming back to the court."
Kansas has withheld De Sousa from action all season, as Long explained the program wanted to make sure he was eligible if he played. He added the program didn't want to jeopardize any results with the forward playing and is exploring "all avenues of an appeal," which no timetable was given for.
"If the NCAA is trying to send a message or make a statement with an unwarranted harsh punishment, they are doing it through the wrong messenger-a young man that both NCAA Enforcement and the Institution agree, had no knowledge of and did not benefit from the NCAA Violation," Long said.
Despite not being able to play, De Sousa will still be able to practice with the Jayhawks and receive his scholarship benefits. Long remains hopeful he will get to play for Kansas.
Bill Self got to address the issue following KU's 79-63 victory over the Red Raiders. He emphasized continuing to fight for his player, who he said is "crushed" and "devastated" by the decision.
"I believe that it ain't over," Self said. "If you knew that something was not right, are you ever going to accept it? And so to me, no matter what happens, based on what was reported yesterday, you're never going to stop fighting because it's just not right.
"I don't think that it's time for us to move on. We have to, and should, and want to advocate for him."
The Kansas head coach said he's hoping for fairness. He added De Sousa is handling the situation as well as anyone can, motivating those at the university even more to have his back.
"Not that you wouldn't fight for every student-athlete," Self said. "I get that, you should. But this one to us is different and a little more special because of the way he's handled everything so far."