University of Kansas

KU’s Self says in Oklahoma he’s ready for season, NCAA case: ‘I feel actually OK’

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self returned to his home state of Oklahoma this week, taking advantage of an off day of practice Tuesday leading into Wednesday’s speaking engagement at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Luncheon in Tulsa’s Downtown DoubleTree Hotel.

The luncheon, which was sold out, was attended by former KU coach Ted Owens, former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton as well as players from Self’s Oral Roberts and Tulsa teams, among others.

“It’s good to be back around friends,” Self said from the dais at the luncheon, as reported by the Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig.

Self told Emig he was able to play a round of golf and have dinner on Tuesday with friends who live in the Sooner State.

“Self hobnobbed for over an hour before the (luncheon) program in a private room. When the scene shifted to the main ballroom, it took 15-20 minutes of more meet-and-greet before he could sit down and take a bite of salad. Self closed his remarks by saying he had to scoot back to Lawrence for practice, but that didn’t dissuade another pack of picture-seekers from swooping in. Self posed with them all,” Emig wrote Wednesday.

Emig asked Self after the luncheon if this trip to Oklahoma served as “shelter, if temporary from the storm (last week’s receipt of a notice of allegations from the NCAA).”

“Well, sure,” Self told the columnist. “But the whole thing is I can handle this. I’m excited about coaching this team and leading this team and the program during a time where obviously waters are clearly pretty choppy.”

Asked his current mood following KU’s receiving the notice of allegations that included five Level I violations, Self said: “I feel actually OK. I know we’ve got the school’s total support. I know that we have great representation. I should just let my statement speak for itself and let the university speak for itself. There really won’t be much to comment on until we put together our game plan and facts together as a university to submit back to the NCAA to review. … All I can do is help contribute (to) the cause and what the attorneys are doing. It’s in the hands of lawyers now.”

Self repeated what he told reporters in Lawrence last week, that he can’t let the NCAA’s investigation into KU hoops serve as a distraction during the 2019-20 season.

“It’s going to be time-consuming. I just can’t let it consume me. I’ve got to coach my team,” Self said Wednesday.

More on NCAA notice of allegations

Prior to the luncheon, Self discussed the NCAA’s investigation during an appearance on Kansas City radio station KCSP (610 AM).

“The only thing that really could be said is our story hasn’t been told yet. I know that everybody (at KU) is confident with that and feel like at the end of the day when everything plays out that will prevail,” Self said.

“I hate that we are going through it. I hate that fans who support us are going through it, but also let’s understand something … we’ve got a really good team. We have a chance to have a special year. There shouldn’t be anything to impact that off the court this year. Let’s focus on that and have the best year we can possibly have and we’ll believe that we’ll come out of this on the other side in a very positive way that certainly will not reflect what’s been presently presented to the public.”

Self added that in coming months, “our story will be told to the NCAA (in answering allegations). I believe at some point there will be some things obviously that can be released, that could be public. At this point we can’t talk about details of the case or anything like that. By NCAA bylaws you can’t do that. When everything clears everyone will have an opportunity to read and see both sides. There’s two sides to everything. There always is in any story.”

Self discusses Senate Bill 206

California Gov. Gavin Newson’s signing of Senate Bill 206 — also known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act” — means college athletes in that state will be able to negotiate their own endorsement deals starting in 2023 in direct violation of current NCAA rules.

Other states are expected to follow with their own bills that, if passed, will let athletes earn money off their own image and likeness.

“I think there are certain things you can support about it. From what I read, the bill said any student-athlete could make any amount of dollars from his own image and likeness as long as it didn’t conflict with present agreements made within a university,” Self said.

In other words, if such a law passes in Kansas, a Jayhawks player could sign his own personal shoe deal with Adidas, which has a contract with KU.

“If that’s true … how big are shoe companies now going to be moving forward in trying to convince certain kids or putting certain things out there to try to convince certain kids to try to go to certain schools?” Self said on 610 AM. “They know that if a high profile guy goes to an Adidas school, that Nike and Under Armour can’t touch him and Adidas could pay him whatever.”

Self noted that the idea of players making money through endorsement agreements, “is wild. You’ll have them all doing every barbecue commercial, every dry cleaning commercial, (every) car commercial. You’ll have them doing all this stuff in a way to generate money. I’m not saying it’s wrong in theory. I just think it’s going to be the wild, wild west in a way that we’ve never seen it before,” Self added.

Doke in great shape, Self says

Self said center Udoka Azubuike is in great physical condition as his senior season begins.

“He’s lost, I don’t know, right at 40 pounds since the beginning of the summer,” Self said. Indeed, the 7-foot Azubuike said last week he weighs between 260 and 265 pounds.

“His body looks terrific. He’s so much more confident now in large part because he’s in such good physical condition. He’s never really looked heavy to me at all, always looked like he could get in a little better shape. He looks tremendous. He’s more explosive now. He’s having fun, going after balls with reckless abandon which we need him to,” Self added.

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