LAWRENCE — Bill Self didn’t have to wait long to discuss how college basketball’s headline-grabbing corruption scandal affects Kansas with the university’s new athletic director.
In fact, Jeff Long broached the subject with the Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach well before he ever accepted the position with KU.
“He asked me that in our first conversation. He asked me that first,” Self said Wednesday following Long’s introductory news conference at Lied Center. “And then I said, ‘I’m actually glad you asked me because how can anyone be serious about a job that wouldn’t ask that question?’ To me that was a sign of experience or whatnot, knowing what potential obstacles could be out there.”
Self said he provided as much detail as he could on the subject throughout the 45-minute first conversation with the soon-to-be athletic director, though he added he told Long most of the assurance that the matter wouldn’t entangle KU would have to come from chancellor Douglas Girod.
On that front, Girod apparently didn’t disappoint.
In addition to Long’s $1.5 million annual salary — one of the highest marks among all of his peers in collegiate athletics — the former Arkansas athletic director also secured a clause in his five-year agreement that would extend the contract by the length of any penalties or sanctions issued to the KU’s men’s and women’s basketball, football or volleyball programs for violations committed before Aug. 1, Long’s official start date.
As Girod revealed Wednesday, that clause was inserted at KU’s insistence.
“That language was ours,” Girod said. “In discussion with our consultant and knowing, of course, that that story is out there, that that conversation continues, we wanted to demonstrate our confidence in where we were with this and our ability to work through this and our belief that we are not at risk in this.
“That was not at his request. It was a way to reassure him that we are confident, as well, about where we are.”
KU was one of four institutions named in an April indictment of Adidas executive James Gatto, with the guardian and a parent of a pair of recent Jayhawks — sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa and former forward Billy Preston, respectively, though neither were named in the document — alleged to have received impermissible benefits from a middle man working with the apparel giant.
None of the four schools were accused of any wrongdoing in the indictment. A Tuesday report from Yahoo Sports claimed a subpoena has been sent to KU, which has declined comment on the matter since an April statement asserting its status as a victim in the matter and citing the ongoing investigation as justification for its lack of further remarks.
Again, Girod’s efforts to ease any of Long’s concerns, and perhaps the conversation with Self, appear to have been successful.
“I am going to say this first: I’m very confident that Kansas, we’re going to work through this process, and we’re going to be just fine,” Long said. “I think that was something I certainly considered as I decided to take the job, so you know, I’m very confident that we’re going to work through this.”
Following Long’s introduction, Self addressed Tuesday’s report and any potential eligibility issues facing De Sousa. Asked for his reaction to the revelation of the subpoena, Self said he “didn’t have one,” adding that the story “wasn’t news” given what KU said in April.
“Without saying it, that told you that there were questions being asked,” Self said. “So I really don’t have a comment on it other than the fact that that’s not new news and I would be very surprised in this situation if questions weren’t asked of a lot of things that came out in those particular documents.
“Not a surprise at all. It’s something that we’ve known. But our stance as a university was that we’re not going to comment on stuff that’s ongoing, and I still believe that’s the correct stance based on what people have said.”
As for De Sousa, Self reiterated his confidence that the Luanda, Angola, native will be eligible to play next season — as long as there are no further developments.
“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that would lead (us) to believe that he could be in jeopardy in that way,” Self said. “But, that’s also without us knowing all the information. Or do we know all the information? And if we know it, then I feel very, very comfortable. But the bottom line is that’s something that’s got to play out.
“As much as I would like to say he’s positively this or that, I can’t do that. But I can tell you there has been no indication yet at this time that we will have a problem with that. That doesn’t mean something couldn’t come up that we aren’t aware of, but at this time, no.”
Back to Long, who said Self “recruited” him to KU throughout the process. The longtime coach disagreed with that assessment of the nature of their conversations — “That was him being kind,” Self said of Long’s claim, adding he mostly just verbalized his love for Lawrence and for the university.
Self did admit to taking a slightly different approach during his pitch to Long than he does with five-star recruits.
“I didn’t promise him he’s going to start,” Self joked, “I promise you that.”