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Kansas Final Four Vacated After NCAA Investigation, Kentucky Regains All-Time Winningest Program Title

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© Evert Nelson / USA TODAY NETWORK

The final ruling of the 2017 federal investigation of corruption in college basketball, involving eleven programs, is here and the Kansas Jayhawks are walking out, relatively unscathed after originally being charged with five Level I violations.

In a decision announced Wednesday, the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP) lessened the severity of the five Level I allegations against the program, ultimately judging this a Level II case. The IARP’s ruling includes:

  • Three-year probation
  • Head Coach Bill Self’s Level I violation was downgraded to level III violation. Self-imposed four-game suspension in 2022-23 season.
  • Assistant Coach Kurtis Townsend’s two Level I violations were downgraded to Level II and III. self-imposed four-game suspension in 2022-23 season.
  • Vacated 20 wins (including 2018 Final Four).
  • Self-imposed scholarship reduction (3).
  • Self-imposed recruiting limitations.

As mentioned, Kansas was one of eight schools in the NCAA investigation that looked into the payment of players. Originally charged with five Level I violations, Kansas’ breaches of NCAA bylaws included a lack of institutional control charge and an allegation that Bill Self failed his head-coach responsibility requirements for “compliance within his program”.

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One of the players referred to in Kansas’ investigation is Silvio de Sousa, whose guardian was alleged to have been given $20,000 to help recruit de Sousa to Kansas. De Sousa appeared in 20 games his freshman year. Of those games were 15 wins, including a run to the Final Four, which have now been vacated as a result of the investigation.

Not only has Kansas’ 2018 Final Four been vacated, but Kentucky has retaken the title as College Basketball’s all-time winningest program with 2,377 wins, over the Jayhawks’ now 2,370.

With Kansas’ ruling ending the investigation of the corruption in college basketball, here are the penalties given to each school:

  • Arizona: Three-year probation; self-imposed postseason ban 2020-21; self-imposed scholarship reduction (1); $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • Alabama: Three-year probation; $5,000 fine
  • Auburn: Four-year probation; self-imposed postseason ban 2020-21; scholarship reduction (2); $5,000 fine; self-imposed recruiting limitations.
  • Creighton: Two-year probation; scholarship reduction (1); $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • Kansas: Three-year probation; 15 vacated wins; self-imposed scholarship reduction (3); $5,000 fine; self-imposed recruiting limitations.
  • Louisville: Two-year probation; $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • LSU: Three-year probation; self-imposed scholarship reduction (1); recruiting limitations.
  • Memphis: Three-year probation; two wins vacated; $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • NC State: One-year probation; 15 vacated wins; scholarship reduction (1); self-imposed $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • Oklahoma State: Three-year probation; postseason ban 2021-22; scholarship reduction (3); $10,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • South Carolina: Two-year probation; self-imposed $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.
  • TCU: Three-year probation; $5,000 fine
  • USC: Two-year probation; self-imposed scholarship reduction (2); self-imposed $5,000 fine; recruiting limitations.

At 5 PM EST, Kansas will hold a press conference to address the ruling.

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Men's Basketball

Rick Pitino Endorses Mark Pope, “He Will Lead The Kentucky Wildcats To Another Championship”

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports/ Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The captain of Rick Pitino’s 1996 “Untouchables”, Mark Pope, is “coming home” to lead the Kentucky Wildcats as the program’s next head coach, officially announced on Friday. While there has been some criticism of the hire, Pitino says he “couldn’t be any prouder to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats.”

While Pope has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in two appearances, Pitino points out that several top coaches had their trials early in their careers. It took Jay Wright 11 seasons to win his first NCAA Tournament, and Billy Donovan was hired at Florida without an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, he heralds Pope as one of the “premier young coaches” in college basketball.

“Offensively, no one does it better,” Pitino said. “The way his teams move. The way his teams shoot the three. The ball movement. It’s outstanding.”

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It’s just the X’s and O’s though, Pitino “guarantees” that Pope loves and understands the program as well as anyone. “I can guarantee to you one thing, that nobody epitomizes the name on the front of the jersey more than Mark Pope.”

“Mark Pope will go on to greatness. You can put it down,” Pitino said. “He will do you proud. “He will lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship”

If his endorsement isn’t enough, Rick Pitino says he will “write the check himself” for NIL to help Pope be successful.

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Men's Basketball

Mark Pope Releases Statement As He Is Announced As Kentucky Basketball Coach

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per UK Athletics

When his alma mater came calling, Mark Pope knew there was no place like home.

Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, has returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program, announced Friday.

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“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said. “It’s the definition of a blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year. Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran with stops at BYU and Utah Valley, amassing a 187-108 career record. His squads won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons and he has made six postseason appearances.

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Men's Basketball

REPORT: Mark Pope Set Sign Five-Year Deal to Become Next Kentucky Basketball Coach

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has found their guy. Former Wildcat and NCAA Champion, Mark Pope, is now expected to be named the next Kentucky basketball coach on a five-year contract worth $5.5 million annually, first reported by CBS Sports. For perspective, based on last season’s salaries, that is more than Dan Hurley (UConn), Scott Drew (Baylor), and Nate Oats (Alabama).

Pope comes to Kentucky with nine seasons of head coaching experience, after serving as an assistant for six seasons, from 2009-2015. In 2015, he was hired by Utah Valley where he coached for four seasons. In 2019, Pope was hired at BYU where he has taken them to two NCAA Tournaments, but has been upset by a double-digit seed in both appearances.

Pope has proven himself as a good X-and-O coach in his nine-year career, running one of the most innovative offenses in the country, but recruiting will be a real test as he has never signed a four-star recruit. Who he hires on to his staff and collecting NIL support will be critical.

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The move has been met with much fan criticism, as fans have been quick to point out that Pope has never won a conference title or an NCAA Tournament game. However, Mitch Barnhart is confident in the move, with some reporting that he is “excited” with the hire.

Just three days into the coaching search, this is an interesting hire with several big names like Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl potentially available. Barnhart made the decision not to wait for Donovan, who is currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, and Pearl was not considered due to his “baggage”.

A new era of Kentucky basketball has begun.

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