University of Kansas

KU officially appeals Silvio De Sousa’s two-year NCAA suspension

Kansas has officially appealed the NCAA’s two-year suspension levied against forward Silvio De Sousa, the school announced in a release Thursday morning.

The NCAA initially ruled on Feb. 1 that De Sousa must sit out the remainder of the 2018-19 basketball season and all of 2019-20 “because his guardian received payment from a university booster and agent and agreed to receive additional funds from the same person.”

In its statement Thursday, KU said it was “challenging the two-season penalty De Sousa received from the NCAA for alleged violations that he was unaware of and from which he did not benefit.” KU also said it would not have further comment until the process was complete.

KU athletic director Jeff Long did, however, clarify why it had taken this amount of time to file De Sousa’s appeal.

“This has been a detailed, collaborative process involving the University of Kansas, the NCAA and Silvio’s attorney,” Long said. “That process has resulted in the best possible appeal for Silvio.”

Thursday’s news means that a final resolution on De Sousa’s status appears to be imminent. His appeal will now go in front of the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement — a five-person panel made up of non-NCAA employees, typically consisting of personnel from individual schools with one student-athlete representative.

Depending on one’s reading of the NCAA’s policies and procedures, the appeal should be heard either within seven business days or three weeks. The reinstatement committee’s ruling on the case is final.

De Sousa has until 10:59 p.m. Central time Sunday to declare for the NBA Draft, though that is a non-binding decision. KU coach Bill Self said after his team’s banquet Tuesday that De Sousa declaring would appear to be a wise choice.

“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 get a chance to try out for some folks and see what happens. The reality of it is, is he needs another year of college to definitely create the most earning power he could possibly have. Right now he doesn’t have that much. Nobody’s seen him play.”

In February, the NCAA stated in a release that “according to the facts provided for purposes of the reinstatement request, De Sousa’s guardian received payment of $2,500 from an agent and booster of the school. He agreed to accept additional payment of $20,000 from the same individual and an Adidas employee for securing De Sousa’s enrollment at Kansas.”

During a federal trial regarding corruption into college basketball last fall, former Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola testified that, sometime before January 2018, he overnighted a $2,500 payment to De Sousa’s legal guardian, Fenny Falmagne. Gassnola said he sent the money in an envelope inside a magazine, so De Sousa could pay for online classes.

Gassnola testified that he also originally offered Falmagne $20,000 to help him get out of a previous arrangement with a Maryland booster, who was paying Falmagne $60,000 with the expectation being that De Sousa would attend Maryland. Gassnola testified that he had discussed previous payments with then-Adidas executive Jim Gatto before making them.

Falmagne told The Star that he did indeed receive $2,500 in cash in the mail. He told The Star it was not apparent who sent the money. He told The Star he gave the money to charity — a church in Florida. Falmagne said the NCAA was aware of this and has receipts of the transaction that he provided to the organization.

He said it was not true that he agreed to accept $20,000 for securing De Sousa’s enrollment at Kansas.

“That did not happen. There’s nothing there,” Falmagne told The Star.

KU immediately had harsh words for the NCAA following the Feb. 1 announcement of De Sousa’s suspension, with Long calling it “unfair and punitive” and Self saying he had “never witnessed such a mean-spirited and vindictive punishment” against a player in his 30-plus years of coaching.

De Sousa appeared in 20 of 23 games for KU as a freshman in 2017-18 before sitting out the entire 2018-19 season.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.