Texts between Kansas coach Bill Self and ex-Adidas rep show how high-level college basketball recruiting works

The most interesting text messages between Bill Self and T.J. Gassnola that were shared Monday in federal court were the ones that came after the former Adidas consultant thanked the Kansas coach for whatever role he played in getting KU's 12-year contract extension done with the apparel company in September 2017.

Self, according to The Kansas City Star, told Gassnola he was happy with Adidas before adding "just need to get a couple real guys."

"In my mind, it's KU, Bill Self. Everyone else fall into line. Too (expletive) bad," Gassnola replied. "That's what's right for Adidas basketball. And I know I'm right. The more you have lottery picks and you happy. That's how it should work in my mind."

"That's how ur (sic) works. At UNC and Duke," Self replied.

Gassnola answered by saying Kentucky as well.

"I promise you I got this," Gassnola texted. "I have never let you down. Except (Deandre). Lol. We will get it right."

What that exchange features is Gassnola essentially promising Self that he'll help him land five-star prospects because Kansas is Adidas' biggest basketball program and what's good for Kansas is good for Adidas. Gassnola assures Self he will deliver because he's never previously let him down -- except for that time with Deandre Ayton, the five-star center who enrolled at Arizona, a Nike school, even though Gassnola paid one of Ayton's friends $15,000, according to testimony last week. And Self welcomes the help from Adidas because, he believes, North Carolina and Duke get similar help from Nike. So does Kentucky, Gassnola proclaims.

Simply put, this has been college basketball for a while.

Self was right.

That's how it works.

Now do I have proof that Nike has paid prospects to go to Nike schools, or that Under Armour has paid prospects to go to Under Armour schools? No. (The feds might, though.) But what I do know is that coaches have long believed both Nike and Under Armour assist Nike and Under Armour schools in recruiting exactly the same way it's been proven Adidas assisted Kansas, NC State and Louisville in recruiting.

Self's texts are evidence of that.

And this is a point I've made for over a year now -- since the day Jim Gatto, Merl Code, Christian Dawkins and seven other men were charged with federal crimes via an ongoing investigation into corruption in college basketball -- the point that shoe-company assistance, regardless of what's right or wrong, was largely considered acceptable behavior in the sport before the government said it's not.

That's the truth.

It might sound crazy now, I know. But the perception of shoe-company involvement in recruiting was so prevalent in recent years that I rarely heard a coach complain publicly or even privately about losing a so-called Nike kid to a so-called Nike school, or a so-called Under Armour kid to a so-called Under Armour school, or a so-called Adidas kid to a so-called Adidas school, even when the coach believed a shoe company had compensated a family in violation of NCAA rules. It was, more or less, for many, just considered part of the sport.

Again, Self's texts underline that point.

Why did he want Gassnola working for Kansas? Because, he believed, somebody at Nike was working for Duke and North Carolina. And why was Gassnola so anxious to help Kansas? Because, he believed, somebody at Nike was also helping Kentucky.

That's four blue-blood programs with Hall of Fame coaches.

"That's how [it] works," Self texted Gassnola.

Yep.

That's. How. It. Works.

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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