Even the NCAA can’t take away the feeling Kansas has after its historic comeback led to a national title

NEW ORLEANS – Not even the NCAA can stop Kansas now.

At some point in the near future, the governing body of the withered university on the nation’s vine is expected to hit the national champions with sanctions. In a cruel twist, after a historic comeback against North Carolina to win the fourth NCAA Tournament championship in school history, Kansas may not even be able to defend its title.

Maybe Big Brother even has the authority to vacate Monday’s championship won in dramatic, inspiring and historic fashion against the Tar Heels. That’s how serious the accusations against KU are going back to the 2017 FBI/SDNY case that was supposed to clean up the sport.

“We have your playbook,” a federal prosecutor bragged that day in September.

How did it work? A group of shoe executives and assistant trainers went to jail. The NCAA app has had its chance with everyone, really. The college sports machine keeps moving forward. And in a sense, Kansas has already served a great deal of time.

For four and a half years, he has lived under a cloud of investigations and suspicions regarding alleged improper hiring with apparel partner adidas. How did it work? Kansas won another national championship on Monday despite all the negativity surrounding it.

We can debate whether KU has really become a sympathetic figure because of the NCAA’s bungling. Mark Emmert certainly seems to chime in every time he opens his mouth. The NCAA president called them the “Kansas City Jayhawks” at the podium as he presented the national championship trophy before correcting himself. T-shirts were already being printed Monday night to commemorate the mistake.

You better believe that Self noticed Emmert’s mistake.

So face it, on Monday the court trumped the courtroom. Kansas won in one. The NCAA doesn’t want to get close to each other. Bring the sanctions. There are rumors that Kansas will not tolerate them and will have their lawyers ready to respond.

But as guilty as KU is, it just doesn’t matter. Look at those kids dancing on the court Monday night and how do you feel anything other than happiness? They had nothing to do with the impending ugliness of the investigation.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as much joy coaching a team as I have with this team,” Self said after the 72-69 win. “No headaches, no problems, no selfishness, no hidden agendas, no back streets.”

It just doesn’t matter. Regardless of the penalties Kansas gets, and they will likely be severe, the program will bounce back, endure and thrive. The NCAA can suspend itself. He can cut scholarships and apply a postseason ban. It just doesn’t matter.

Once again I have proof. Kansas may have been the last major college sports program not allowed to defend its national championship. Larry Brown left town after the 1988 title, leaving KU with a postseason ban in 1989, Roy Williams’ first season.

Two years later, Williams was in her first Final Four.

North Carolina won it all in 2017 amid a massive academic fraud scandal. UConn’s Jim Calhoun accepted the trophy in 2011 after being suspended for three games the next season.

The reason the app exists in the first place is because of a massive gambling scandal in the early 1950s. The likes of Kentucky received a postseason ban. Again, how did that work? Wildcats are the bluest of the bluebloods.

After Monday, Self’s status went from hall of famer to legend. He became the first KU coach to win two nattys. At a future date, he will have a structure named after him on campus. the man has talent and Teflon It’s almost a year to the day he signed a lifetime contract that includes the unprecedented clause: Self cannot be fired for being guilty of NCAA sanctions.

That’s why it also doesn’t matter. Kansas will bounce back like Arizona bounced back. Like Auburn it has prospered.

“The constant message [is] that we need stronger punishments,” a Power Five commissioner told CBS Sports before the championship game. “The constant message is never evaluated with respect to how it is being applied. Are they effective? Are they slowing down the cases?

Those questions have already been answered nationally. The NCAA Transformation Committee responsible for rewriting the association’s constitution should consider future sanctions that don’t punish athletes. The next generation Jayhawks who will replace these national champions deserve a tournament to play in.

Perhaps the answer is eight-figure financial penalties that draw the attention of even school presidents. The reason those CEOs haven’t done more is because athletic budgets are small compared to the overall college budget. Kansas President Doug Girod is definitely involved. He oversaw Self’s new contract, which, as mentioned, was a middle finger for the NCAA last week.

Self’s attorney in particular has already threatened to sue if the NCAA doesn’t allow certain evidence in the case.

It could get ugly pretty quickly. Kansas has not yet received its hearing date with the Independent Accountability Resolution Panel. The talk going around is that the IARP could soon be disbanded after becoming a failed attempt at, well, accountability. The cases have gone on too long, with Kansas being one of them.

Fortunately, the night will be known for a huge Jayhawks comeback, the biggest in championship game history. No matter what the NCAA does, and it could be significant, it will soon be forgotten. We had more tests on Monday night.

These past 4 ½ years have also impacted Kansas recruiting. For the most part, Self has landed good players, but not the top five. (He did get two of those players for next season, though.) The standout player in the Final Four, Ochai Agbaji, was a developing player. His Final Four teammate David McCormack (15 points, 10 rebounds) made some money (legally) in the last month.

Self was brilliant on Monday. He kept McCormack on the court after the big man drew his third foul 84 seconds into the second half. The defense tensed. The Jayhawks went on a 30-10 run to open the half.

North Carolina didn’t wither after leaving it all on the floor Saturday against Duke. It was invaded by KU.

“These don’t fall out of trees,” Self said after winning his second title. “I mean, they’re hard to come by. … No one has ever put pressure on me that we have to win another one, but I think I push myself knowing that this place deserves more than we’ve earned.”

And it’s clear that Self’s run at No. 3, and beyond, won’t end after Monday night.


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