Kansas basketball coach Bill Self says he doesn’t know how long forward Billy Preston will be kept out of games as the KU compliance office looks into a situation that kept the freshman from playing against Kentucky on Tuesday night at the United Center.
“I am confident it will get cleared up. I don’t know the time frame and they (KU compliance officers) haven’t clued me in exactly,” Self said after the Jayhawks’ 65-61 victory over the Wildcats. “One thing about it … when that’s turned over (to compliance), coaches are totally eliminated from that situation. So they won’t tell me exactly what’s going on.”
Self explained Preston’s suspension in a statement posted to the KU men’s basketball’s Twitter page before Tuesday’s game. He said Preston was involved in a single-vehicle incident Saturday on KU’s campus that damaged his car but had no injuries. On Wednesday, a KU official said Preston's car hit a curb on 19th Street, resulting in tire damage, but no damage to property.
“After I learned about the incident, I reported it to our administration,” Self said in a statement. “The administration determined that we needed a clearer financial picture specific to the vehicle. We decided to hold him out of tonight’s game and will continue to do that until the review is complete.”
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Self explained the situation further after the game.
“Our administration and our compliance people … they’ve got to get some information. We were hoping we could get it today,” Self said. “Obviously that didn’t happen.
“When a kid goes to school at your school you register your car if he (athlete) has a car through the compliance office. He had a minor, no-injury, one-car accident on Saturday that’s reported to the compliance office. They started doing the checking on the car. They wanted to get a clearer picture of how some things were done. We couldn’t get it cleared up (Tuesday). That’s basically all there is to it.”
Self was asked if any issues involving Preston’s car should have been addressed with compliance at the start of the semester or before this accident (Self called it an accident after the game; incident before the game) took place.
“That’s a good question. That’s probably one for our compliance office,” Self said. “It (the car) was registered. Everything was good, but they dove into it a little bit deeper. That doesn’t mean something wrong has been done.”
Self told Preston he wouldn’t be playing 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Preston also missed the Friday opener against Tennessee State for missing class and curfew.
“He was obviously very disappointed and upset because he didn’t get word of it until right at pregame meal,” Self said. “We spent all day trying to figure out if there was a way we could get it done where he could play. I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of Billy. He was a great teammate on our bench. Our guys will rally around him. Certainly it was very disappointing.”
Earlier in the statement, Self had said: “Needless to say he was disappointed and crushed. He was very excited to make his KU debut. We hope to have the situation resolved as soon as possible.”
KU used just seven scholarship players on Tuesday.
“It did hurt (this game),” Self added. “I think it would have been nice if we could have played seven guys instead of six. Our guys rallied around it.”
Self was asked what this would do to the team if Preston cannot return for a while.
“We will (not) be a team until everything gets situated and until you get to Christmas when you have a chance to get two more players to join your team — obviously Sam (Cunliffe, who will be eligible at the conclusion of first semester) and Silvio (De Sousa, IMG Academy senior forward who hopes to report to campus in December as well) if he graduates and qualifies,” Self said. “He’s on pace to do that. If that’s the case that would change your depth situation immediately. Until then I can’t see us being much more than an hour-15, hour-30 minute practice a day team.”
Preston tweeted a few times before Tuesday’s game, saying “wow” in one tweet and “Smh people love trying to see me fail” in another.
On Sunday, Self said on a teleconference that he had expected Preston to play against Kentucky.
“He had a great attitude (since Friday’s Tennessee State suspension), but certainly, I think that we’ve still got a full day tomorrow,” Self said. “I’m certainly anticipating there being no issues, but I don’t want to positively say one way or another until I actually know for a fact.”
The Star’s Jesse Newell contributed to this report.