With Kansas under scrutiny, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby warns against convicting all of college basketball

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) dunks as West Virginia center Sagaba Konate (50) looks on during the Big 12 Tournament championship game at Sprint Center.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Armed with two announcements of the Big 12’s future in college hoops, league commissioner Bob Bowlsby could not escape the present.

Speaking at Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday, Bowlsby announced a four-year deal with the Big East — beginning with the 2019-20 season — that will create a challenge series between the leagues, with all 10 teams involved with the road and home game split down the middle.

Bowlsby also announced that the Big 12 tournament would remain at Kansas City’s Sprint Center through 2024, an extension from a deal that ends in 2020.

None of that compared to the interest in the federal investigation into college basketball corruption.

A federal hearing in New York mentioned several times alleged violations from Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self and the program’s involvement with Adidas.

It was alleged in court that Adidas funneled money to Kansas recruits Billy Preston — who never played for the Jayhawks last season — and current sophomore Silvio De Sousa. Kansas released a statement Wednesday that it would hold De Sousa out until an eligibility review.

“It’s certainly easy to paint college basketball with a dark brush right now,” Bowlsby said. “But, there are a lot of good kids out there and good programs out there.”

Bowlsby said he has been in contact with Kansas and Adidas officials, but he was not ready to cast doubt on either entity.

Bob Bowlsby reiterated how much the Big 12 loves Kansas City and announced an upcoming basketball challenge series against the Big East.


Big East Challenge

Challenge games with the Big East, the games will begin in December 2019 and the Big 12 will continue to play its annual challenge games against SEC schools each January.

“The Big 12 looks forward to competing against the Big East in this scheduling series,” Bowlsby said. “It will provide both conferences with high-quality intersectional matchups on an annual basis that will be of interest to basketball fans across the country.”

The league said in a release that the 10 matchups will be announced in the spring of 2019.

The series with the Big East will help the Big 12 combat other power leagues who plan to move to 20 conference games, which will improve the strength of schedule for those leagues and teams.

Currently, the ACC and the Big Ten are scheduled to go from 18 to 20 conference games. The Big Ten will do it this season. The ACC is scheduled to start it next season.

“We can’t expand,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “We already play everyone twice, which the other leagues don’t do, which makes it tough for us. We have to find another vehicle to get a tough game.”

Tournament staying

As for the Big 12 tournament, Bowlsby said there were no other cities or venues who put forth the effort to host the tournament like Kansas City.

“Interestingly enough for us, we don’t have much debate at this point about the site of our tournament,” Bowlsby said. “I think our men’s tournament has been the best in the country. This is a wonderful venue at which to host it. The area around the venue has gotten better and better every year.”

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