Bill Self said emphatically Wednesday at Big 12 basketball media day he’s not concerned that the NCAA’s case against Kansas basketball could result in his possibly losing his job as head coach of the tradition-rich program.
“I feel totally confident. I feel 100% confident that I’m going to be the coach here for a long time,” Self, KU’s 17th-year coach, told a gathering of reporters bunched in front and to the side of KU’s designated table on the Sprint Center court.
“I feel totally confident that if I’m not the coach here for a long time it’ll be because I choose to leave — not to be coach here,” he added, noting any direct question about his job status is “a question for our athletic director or our chancellor.”
And Self indicated he’s received support from AD Jeff Long and KU chancellor Douglas Girod both during an FBI trial that alleged wrongdoing in KU basketball recruiting as well as the recent receipt of a notice of allegations from the NCAA with five Level I violations involving men’s basketball.
“I know that our chancellor and and our athletic director (and) the basketball program are totally aligned in this,” Self said.
Of the topic of the NCAA possibly suspending Self, he said: “You’re looking at a positively worst-case scenario. That hasn’t even been discussed.”
Some have speculated Self could pack up and leave for another job, perhaps in the NBA, after this season. An NCAA decision on possible KU sanctions is expected to come in the spring or summer.
“I won’t cut and run. I’d never heard that expression before,” Self said with a smile after a reporter indeed asked if he might “cut and run” — basically flee — from KU. “I won’t cut and run. I know what’s transpired. Even better yet I know what has not transpired. I’m not running from this at all.”
Self both in a 10-minute session at the Sprint Center podium and in an hour-long breakout session with reporters, was asked several specific questions about his dealings with Adidas’ consultant T.J. Gassnola. Self steadfastly refused to answer any specifics about contact with those accused of steering players to KU by paying parents or mentors of prospects.
Asked what folks would learn about Self if they had access to his text messages, Self said: “Without going into details of the case, anybody who has ever played for me or worked for me knows how I go about my business. I’m very proud of how we have conducted our business over time. That hasn’t been altered at all.”
Self was asked some questions about his legacy and whether Kansas would “prevail” once the NCAA issues a ruling on this case.
“Absolutely. Kansas will always prevail … always,” Self exclaimed. “I’d like to think I will as well. I think the school is obviously much more important than any individuals. There is 100% confidence Kansas will prevail and it will not lose any of the tradition-rich thoughts of this university and what it’s meant to our game over time. That will not ever happen.”
Indeed, Self said he’s already been looking at the bright side of the NCAA’s investigation into KU hoops.
“I just know the things that have taken place thus far, obviously nobody likes to deal with it,” Self said. “Certainly I haven’t liked it, but it’s also in a strange way motivating me probably in a way that maybe I never have been to combat this by taking care of our business on the basketball court, working with our players in a way that maybe exceeds any way I’ve ever done it.
“I do believe there could be a positive that comes out of that. That’s certainly one of them,” he added. “As my legacy or whatever, that doesn’t even register with me. I probably know me better than anybody else knows me. I know the people that I worked with over the years know me and everything.
“I know that we have to get through this, and we’ll get through this, be very happy when it is behind us. My legacy is the least of my concerns right now. I just want to do the best job I can coaching at a place that I absolutely love.”
Asked about how this has affected recruiting, Self said: “Recruiting is hard regardless. When you’re recruiting at an elite level, you have obstacles each and every year that may be a little bit different to try to recruit.
“It’s something that we certainly explain out and are very transparent with everything going on. There’s not anybody that we recruit that we don’t tell them how it is, at least the way we know it to be.
“I would say it’s definitely had an impact. I will also say this: I think we’re in position to have one of our better early signing periods we’ve had in a long time (KU has landed two players and is one of the leaders for Oklahoma standout Bryce Thompson). Even though it’s hard, it’s never easy, I think we’re going to come out of it OK,” he added.