You should recall that De Sousa already had been given a somewhat controversial second chance. This past May, the NCAA restored his eligibility despite the player being implicated in the federal investigation and corruption trial that still haunts the sport. In that case, he was considered a victim of his guardian’s greed, the meddling of boosters and the predatory aspirations of former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola. This time, however, he is the maniac raising a stool with ill intentions. And he received the harshest of all the suspensions given to players on both teams. On Wednesday, De Sousa was handed a 12-game ban that will keep him off the court until March.
“It happened in the handicap seating,” Kansas Coach Bill Self said Tuesday night, fuming about his team’s lack of discipline. “If you’re going to do something, at least take it on the court. It’s ridiculous that they would go into the stands.”
There’s the word to describe the 2019-20 college basketball season and Kansas’s constant presence amid the mayhem: ridiculous. It’s not just that the game has lacked a dominant team, with a record-tying seven programs having held the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press top 25 (and it’s not even February). It’s not just that the NCAA essentially ran off its most compelling freshman, Memphis center James Wiseman, in a strange and complicated case of selective enforcement. It’s not just that more people are consumed with the NCAA addressing student-athlete compensation right now than focusing on midseason hoops. It’s the fact that Kansas, one of the sport’s most storied and important programs, keeps doing stupid things that truly epitomizes how lost and lawless this season feels.
In September, the NCAA gave Kansas a notice of allegations, which included a responsibility charge against Self. The Jayhawks responded in a defiant manner, accusing the NCAA of trying to use their program to reestablish authority.
Remember this passage in Self’s strongly worded statement?
“In its haste and attempt to regain control, the enforcement staff has created a false narrative regarding me and our basketball program,” he said. “The narrative is based on innuendo, half-truths, misimpressions and mischaracterizations. In reality, we all know there is only one version of the truth. The truth is based on verifiable facts, and I am confident the facts we will demonstrate in our case will expose the inaccuracies of the enforcement staff’s narrative.”
The Kansas response could have been more measured and strategic, but the school took the most forceful, how-dare-you tone it could in challenging the organization’s grounds for possible punishment.
The Jayhawks set up a showdown that only will motivate the NCAA to prove its case and hammer the program.
But questioning the NCAA’s authority and worth is hardly a bold act these days. The Jayhawks have been far more reckless with some of their other foolish moments amid this scandal.
Despite the corruption case, they signed a new $196 million deal with Adidas in April. Less than two weeks after their notice of allegations, they celebrated a new season with a Snoop Dogg performance that included stripper poles and a money cannon. A promotional video for the rapper’s appearance featured Self wearing a dollar-sign chain over his Adidas shirt.
Kansas has redefined the term “bad look.” It really needs to find a mirror and take a long gaze.
Now there’s this unfortunate incident, at the end of an 81-60 blowout of Kansas State, to add to the list.
It started when Kansas State guard DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from De Sousa and raced downcourt for a breakaway layup as time expired. De Sousa raced back on defense, swatted Gordon’s shot away and stood over him.
Kansas State guard Cartier Diarra confronted De Sousa, and it led to one of the worst altercations in recent college basketball history.
“That was an embarrassment on our part for the role that we played in it,” Self said.
The coach added: “I know we were in the wrong. I’m not saying both parties weren’t in the wrong, but I know we were in the wrong.”
For certain, Kansas State deserves just as much blame. Gordon didn’t need to swipe the ball from De Sousa. Wildcats Coach Bruce Weber had told his players to back off and not to foul. But, ultimately, this will be remembered more as the Jayhawks’ moment of shame because they are a marquee program and because De Sousa provided the scariest and most memorable image when he considered turning that stool into a weapon.
The only good to come out of this chaos: Kansas is embarrassed, finally. This random and vicious fight has nothing to do with the NCAA case, but the program needed this humbling. The Jayhawks should lower their heads and shuffle away, for now.
For more by Jerry Brewer, visit washingtonpost.com/brewer