Thomas Gassnola, an AAU basketball director accused of working with Adidas to bribe guardians or family members of basketball players to attend specific colleges, KU included, has pleaded guilty.
Potentially more troubling for the University of Kansas, Gassnola agreed to cooperate with investigators.
“Prior to being charged, the defendant participated in numerous proffer sessions during which he has disclosed his criminal activities and those of others,” said prosecutors of Gassnola. “The government anticipates that grand jury subpoenas may be issued based on information provided by the defendant, and that information provided by the defendant may also be presented to a grand jury in this district for purposes of obtaining an indictment.”
The two “student-athletes” affiliated with KU whose names have surfaced are Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. Both committed to KU reportedly after guardians received big money from Adidas executive Jim Gatto and two associates, Preston $90,000 and De Sousa, $20,000.
Preston never played for KU. After being involved in a car accident, Preston missed the beginning of the 2017-2018 while the NCAA investigated the “financial picture” of the vehicle. After being sidelined for two months, Preston turned pro, playing basketball in Bosnia. The 6’10” power forward has declared for the NBA draft in June.
De Sousa, a 6’9″ inch forward from Angola, joined the KU team in January 2018 after finishing up his high school credits in December. De Sousa averaged 12 minutes and 5 points a game in KU’s 5-game NCAA Tournament run.
Despite the Adidas involvement in the ripening scandal, KU is currently working on a new 12-year, $191 million contract with the shoe company. One of only 10 schools in Power Five conferences with an Adidas partnership, KU has the highest profile of any college team affiliated with Adidas.
KU coach Bill Self’s nearly $5 million annual salary is the fourth highest in the country for any college basketball coach. He has been extraordinarily successful at KU, but some are asking at what price to the university’s reputation.