Kansas coach Bill Self spent a lot of time answering questions about the current investigation into college basketball by the FBI during a recent press conference about a Kansas-Missouri exhibition game.
Q. It’s been about three weeks since all this federal investigation stuff first hit. You know Jim Gatto well, known him for a while. Have you had a chance to talk to him, and are you surprised that his name got mixed up in all this stuff?
BILL SELF: Well, I do know Jim. We’ve been with Adidas for 10 years or whatever, so you know most of those guys within the company. But it was very disappointing and disheartening and obviously a dark cloud for our profession and everything. But to answer your question, no, I’ve had zero contact, zero.
Q. The allegations with possible six-figure payments from Adidas and whatever sources to get someone to go to a school, does that surprise you those things are out there?
BILL SELF: That surprises me, yeah. That does surprise me. Now, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. What’s not surprising is third parties’ involvement who are recruiting. Everybody should know that. That’s prevalent everywhere.
Q. What can they do about that?
BILL SELF: Well, it hadn’t been illegal. People can assume that certain things — there’s nothing illegal about agents talking to kids and their families in ninth or tenth grade the way the rules are today. There’s nothing illegal about shoe companies funding AAU programs. That’s what’s been encouraged and that’s what’s been done and that’s what’s been said legal, so it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that you could have influence coming from third parties when those things are prevalent.
You know, obviously the things that were reported were bad, very disturbing, those sorts of things, but to answer your question, what can be done, I think we have to maybe take a look at it from really 30,000 feet and say, well, what can — not only what can be done but what do we want to accomplish with this. People say they have all the answers, and well, let’s just pay players or let’s allow them to sign with agents or let’s let them go out of high school or let’s put in the baseball rule or let’s pay them for their likeness and image, and all these things. These things all sound very simple in theory, which I’m not saying some of them or all of them couldn’t work, but this has to be a long, vetted-out process to determine do we want amateurism to be.
The Olympics made a lot of changes decades ago but recent memory for most of us when no pros could participate in the Olympics. Isn’t that right? And now professional athletes can participate in the Olympics, and things like that.
I don’t know how the college landscape will change, but I think it’ll change not only for basketball but for everybody.
Q. From knowing Jim Gatto, knowing these guys, do you think that there’s a fear out there that when whistle blowers start going, there will be people turning over on other schools and things like that? Knowing what you know about him, is he someone —
BILL SELF: I’m not going to get into that because I’ve never, ever visited with him in regards to anything that would be remotely associated with how he would react in a situation like this. Nothing. So yeah, I can’t answer that question at all.
Q. Hearing all this and listening to what you’re saying, the conversation has been said that it needs to be had, and we’ve been doing this for a number of years, is it time for athletes at the college level, at least basketball and football, to start getting paid or getting some sort of —
BILL SELF: Now, see, that’s a great point, but do you think that’ll hold up in a court of law that those are the only two sports where athletes can get paid? So there’s all kinds of things that have to be thought out. This is bigger than us just coming up with ideas. It’s coming up with ideas that will also be able to withhold all the headwind that’s going to be coming towards it, and those aren’t questions I can answer. You should ask NCAA legal counsel on those sorts of things.
But do I think it needs to be fixed and changed? Absolutely. And hopefully what has transpired will definitely create some positive things moving forward that would be better for not only our sport but be better for all collegiate athletics moving forward.
Q. With you guys in the news off the court, does that affect you guys recruiting and are you concerned about your relationships with prospects?
BILL SELF: I would say that I don’t know that it’s affected us. I know that there is — whenever in recruiting there could be something out there that has been reported, whether it’s reliable, unreliable, total myth, whatever, there’s usually competitors that will make sure that information gets to people. I mean, that’s how — unfortunately that’s how it works. You can say that’s negative recruiting. I’m not sure if it’s reported and you forward an article, I’m not sure if that’s negative recruiting. I think that’s — but a lot of times the things that are reported are so inaccurate that it puts you on the defense. And I would be lying if I wouldn’t have to tell you that we have addressed these issues with everyone that we’re recruiting.
And has it hurt us to date? No, I don’t think it has. But I don’t know — it’s not signing date yet, either. I know that we spent plenty of time making sure we explained the position of what’s transpired so far based on what we know. But as of this point, I don’t think it’s been a big deterrent.
Q. (Indiscernible) not quite official yet. Are you confident of that moving forward?
BILL SELF: Well, you’d have to ask my superiors that. That would probably be Sheahon or maybe our chancellor even involved with that. I don’t know anything about the contract moving forward or the dates or if it’s signed yet. I really don’t know that.
Q. There was a fair amount of information from a paper trying to get stuff, and the FBI sent a letter back to them. Have you seen that letter, and what is your assurance level that you guys don’t have any issues?
BILL SELF: Well, I don’t think that we do. I don’t think that we do. But I could be mistaken on this, okay, so bear with me on this. What was reported was accurate, but it was incomplete, because if I’m not mistaken, the Kansas City Star and the Journal World ran something right after that that says that would have been our standard answer if anybody from any school would have FOI’d the FBI regarding anything going on with this investigation. If that’s the fact, which I believe it is based on the way it’s been reported, it certainly wasn’t part of the initial bang. So when Bleacher Report or Yahoo or ESPN get it, they don’t get the full thing, they get the partial thing.
You know, that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about, so that could potentially put you on the defensive on recruiting saying, let me send you the full scope of the article as opposed to the partial one. And based on what I have been told and what I have seen is it was very clear that it was a standard answer that would be responded to by anybody that would have questions about any school that FOI’d that could potentially be having any type of — not involvement but any type of connection in what way, shape or form with what the FBI is trying to do. That’s the way it was explained to me. That’s the way I understood it. I don’t think our fans at this point in time have anything to worry about.
I’m much more concerned about our sport than I am Kansas.
Q. Theoretically, I guess if you look at this from 30,000 feet, a shoe company could do this without a school even knowing, try to pay kids some money. You wouldn’t think it could, but it could. Are there fears of things happening out there that you guys wouldn’t know about?
BILL SELF: I would say that there’s — fears might not be the right word, but I think there is obviously things going on in recruiting that a lot of times coaches would not know about, because you don’t know what agents and families talk about when they meet. You don’t know about that stuff. You know, you’d like to know as much as possible, but I think that would probably be impossible to know every little thing.
Would there be concerns? Yeah, that would be concerns for anybody I would say, that there could be some things out there that’s gone on in recruiting that doesn’t involve just the school and the family and the recruit. But I’m not saying that’s prevalent. I don’t believe it is, but who knows, I guess it could be the case.