Self denies KU providing impermissible benefits to recruits

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - As he wrapped up his availability at Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday afternoon, Bill Self couldn't read the phone put down in front of him.

On it was the guilty verdict for former Adidas executives Jim Gatto and Merl Code as well as basketball middleman Christian Dawkins. They had all been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

At the time, Self had no comment on it.

"If there was a verdict that was done in the time frame that allowed me to address this here, I would've," Self said.

About five hours later, the Kansas head coach did just that. In a news conference addressing the trial, Self denied Kansas providing any impermissible benefits to recruits.

"My staff and I have not, and do not, offer improper inducements to them or their families to influence their college decisions, nor are we aware of any third-party involvement to do so," Self read off of a prepared statement.

The longtime KU head coach defended his coaches, which include assistant Kurtis Townsend, who was mentioned with Self in the trial as being accused of having knowledge of or helping facilitate benefits for recruits.

"I have total confidence in all members of my staff," Self said. "I feel as strongly about that today as I did five, 10, 15 years ago."

He also defends the involvement of shoe companies with recruits as long as it follows NCAA rules.

"We all know shoe companies have influence on all levels of basketball," Self read from his statement. "They work hard to develop brand loyalty with top high school prospects and they have some influence with them, which is totally permissible under NCAA guidelines. Just like a high school coach could, an AAU coach, a trusted advisor and especially a parent."

The Jayhawks begin exhibition play tomorrow night without sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa, another key figure in the Adidas trial. He is being withheld from competition pending an eligibility review.

As top-ranked Kansas prepares for another pressure-packed season, Self said he doesn't believe the players will be distracted by this situation.

"When you're in the eye, you don't really feel as much as what's going on outside of it," Self said. "And I think that's more common for young people than it actually is for adults."

"At the end of the day, we still got to go in and prepare for guys like Michigan State because they're preparing," redshirt junior forward Dedric Lawson said. "So we just got to stay focused and keep grinding."

But as we move forward, there are still two federal trials that will deal with college basketball corruption. As for responding to the details from this Adidas one, Self said he would do it in the future, but only if he's allowed to.

"Right now, my initial response would say absolutely," Self said. "But I am not in a position now to comment on hypotheticals."

For now, the next hypothetical is what if the NCAA decides to come down on Kansas and punish the Jayhawks?

"I have a hard time believing their goal is to say, 'We have to make an example out of somebody.' But I do think if the evidence says they should, they will."

And the simple truth is we're a good deal away from figuring that out.