LAWRENCE — Kansas has taken the next step in its months-long effort to clear the name of one of its star men's basketball players.
The university on Thursday morning announced it has formally submitted its appeal of the NCAA’s ruling that declared ineligible sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa through the 2019-20 season, fallout from findings in the federal government’s probe into corruption in college basketball recruiting. KU voluntarily withheld De Sousa until Feb. 1, when the NCAA revealed its punishment.
De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, was accused last October during the trials of three individuals with ties to Adidas to have accepted payments during the forward’s recruiting process. Former Adidas runner T.J. Gassnola testified he made a $2,500 payment to Falmagne to help De Sousa pay for schooling, acknowledging another $20,000 payment was scheduled but never made, an attempt to help Falmagne repay a $60,000 loan he allegedly accepted from a Maryland booster to steer De Sousa to the Under Armour-sponsored program.
De Sousa's future is now in the hands of the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, which "reviews each student-athlete reinstatement request individually based on its own merits and set of specific facts," according to the NCAA website.
In a news release announcing the appeal submission, KU reiterated its belief De Sousa was "unaware of" and "did not benefit" from the alleged violations, adding the university would have no further comment on the matter until the process is completed. A KU spokesperson told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the university has no expectation on a timetable for a ruling on the appeal.
KU coach Bill Self did remark on De Sousa’s situation following the Jayhawks’ season-ending banquet Tuesday, stating he has no timetable for the 6-foot-9, 245-pound native of Luanda, Angola, to make a decision regarding his future. Players have until April 21 to declare for the NBA Draft while retaining the possibility of returning to the collegiate level.
Self said he’s “actually OK” with whatever path De Sousa takes.
“With Silvio, I haven’t quite thought it all the way through talking with him and everything. I think it may be in his best interest to declare,” Self said. “If we don’t know where this is, it buys another month for him to maybe try out for some folks or whatnot and see what happens. But the reality of it is he needs another year of college to definitely create the most earning power he possibly could have because right now he doesn’t have that much because nobody has seen him play.”
De Sousa, who joined the Jayhawks at midseason in the 2017-18 campaign, came on strong down the stretch in that team’s run to the Final Four, a key player in the group's Big 12 Tournament victory. He finished that season averaging 4.0 points and 3.7 rebounds across 8.8 minutes per game in his 20 appearances.
De Sousa didn’t once see the court in 2018-19, voluntarily withheld and then ruled ineligible by the NCAA. KU athletic director Jeff Long at a Feb. 2 news conference stated his “faith has been shaken” in the NCAA, and Long lamented on Monday his “frustration at the unfair situation that my friend Silvio has had to endure.”
Asked Thursday why the appeal had only now been filed over two months from the original ruling, Long through a KU spokesperson responded: “This has been a detailed, collaborative process involving the University of Kansas, the NCAA and Silvio’s attorney. That process has resulted in the best possible appeal for Silvio.”
Self lauded De Sousa’s outlook through everything.
“Worst hand anybody’s been dealt in my opinion, as to no fault to his own nor really to anyone, in our opinion,” Self told the banquet audience Tuesday. “Certainly to sit out and have our team be affected, but the fact of the matter is, he didn’t let it be a negative to us. He was positive, and certainly he’s one of these kids that, he’s got a big ‘W’ written over his chest and he’ll be successful in whatever he does. But we’re still holding out for hope on Silvio participating at Kansas moving forward even though we don’t have any answers on that yet.”