A brawl between Kansas and Kansas State players grabbed national headlines this week, as coaches and panelists alike attempt to appropriately react and punish those responsible.
However, that first reaction -- one of retribution -- is incorrect under the amateur model, assuming we're still pretending college basketball isn't a money-making scheme in existence to benefit coaches, boosters, universities and most importantly the NCAA.
College sports' governing body cannot have it both ways, and if we're truly considering the likes of Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa and others amateur, which is by definition a work in progress, they must be given another opportunity, as ugly as the incident on Tuesday night was.
Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who makes approximately $3.8 million per year taking advantage of unpaid labor, stated that the incident was an embarrassment. This is a point we can all agree on. Yet, rather than use it as a learning experience, he's suspended De Sousa indefinitely to save face. A suspension is the appropriate response, but as the Big 12 and NCAA gain more information and look over the tape, we have to wonder where that response is coming from.
Are Self and other supposed 'grown-ups in the room' suspending De Souza (and likely more players to come) to set a precedent, or in hopes of rehabilitating a young man who clearly needs to learn how to control his emotions on the basketball court? As of now, it's more likely the former.
"Obviously, it’s an embarrassment,” Self said. “It’s not something to be proud of. What happened showed zero signs of toughness. It’s a sign of immaturity and selfishness more so than toughness. If I was a fan watching, depending on your perspective, there would be nothing about that intriguing me to watch more.”
The vindictive Self is hypocritical in this sense, as he himself has faced countless allegations of incompetence-to-wrongdoing in recruiting, including with his handling of De Souza just this past season. The KU forward was suspended in Feb. of 2019 for allegedly taking money from an Adidas consultant, which Self claimed he knew nothing about. That's all too convenient for a coach who is supposed to have full, undivided attention on his program.
"Silvio is a tremendous young man who absolutely deserves to be on the court with his teammates in a Jayhawk uniform," Self said at the time of De Souza's original suspension. My, how he's changed his tune.
Add in previous charges of a domestic incident involving former Jayhawk Lagerald Vick, who left the program last February, and since-dropped rape allegations by a 16-year-old girl which (according to her) took place in the Jayhawks basketball dorm, and KU has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the last five years. While not specifically his wrongdoing, all of this falls on Self's shoulders, considering the amount of money he is paid to lead his program.
These ugly coincidences are adding up for Self, who either needs to take charge of what's his, or leave Phog Allen Fieldhouse for good.