Junior point guard Naadir Tharpe will not return to the Kansas men's basketball program for his senior season, he and head coach Bill Self announced on Thursday.
This comes weeks after a naked Tharpe was seen in a lewd photo with a married woman.
After the photograph was shared on social media, Self said he was disappointed in Tharpe and was considering what punishment to impose.
Neither Self nor Tharpe mentioned the controversy in their statements issued Thursday, instead focusing on Tharpe wanting to spend more time with his family, particularly his ailing daughter.
"Naadir and I have talked numerous times since he's been here about his role and about his situation back home with his daughter," Self said. "He's told me many times how much he misses his little girl and she's had some health issues that has certainly made it difficult for him to be away from her for this extended period of time. She's doing very well now, but Naadir approached me after the season was over about him wanting to be closer to her. This is his decision to try and accomplish that."
The photo was of the 22-year-old Tharpe and a 38-year-old married woman inside a KU dorm for basketball players. Tharpe, who apparently took the picture, is not wearing a shirt or pants. The woman appears to be licking his face while wearing a form-fitting white shirt that is pulled down low enough to expose part of her breast.
The woman joined the Gardner-Edgerton School District in August 2010. She resigned her position with the district shortly after the picture surfaced.
Tharpe made his first career start in the second game of the 2013-14 season, leading the Jayhawks to a win against then 4th-ranked Duke in Chicago's United Center. A rough stretch of play in non-conference action kept him from the starting lineup for two games before the 5-11 Worcester, MA, guard took over as floor general for the remainder of the season. With Tharpe at point guard, Kansas went 25-10 overall and 14-4 in Big 12 play to capture its 10th-consecutive regular-season conference title in 2013-14.
In January of his freshman season, Tharpe's daughter, Amara, was born. Since then, the university said Tharpe has held down the role of student, athlete and father.
"Due to extenuating circumstances within my personal life, I will no longer be attending the University of Kansas," Tharpe said. "My daughter has current medical issues that require weekly visits to her physician, as well as with a specialist. At this juncture, I feel it is best to be closer to home where I can assist and support in any way necessary."
In 2013-14, Tharpe went on to earn his first All-Big 12 accolades, being named to honorable mention team after averaging 5.0 assists per game to rank third in the league. His 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio also checked in third in the conference for the second-straight season. He tallied six different games without a turnover and a pair of double-doubles against Iowa State at home and Kansas State on the road. Tharpe led Kansas in assists (170), free throw percentage (82.1) and tied for the team-lead in most three-pointers made (43).
"I enjoyed my time here," Tharpe said. "I appreciate the players that were here before me that I got a chance to play with and that are still friends with me right now. It's going to be tough leaving a situation like this because of the teammates I'm leaving behind. Everything happens for a reason and I have to continue my journey a different way."
Self concurred. He said Tharpe was faced with a difficult decision.
"Personally, it's something that we 100 percent support and wish him nothing but the best," Self said. "I certainly appreciate all of his efforts since he's been here. Naadir has been a good player for us in his three years here. But we also respect the fact that he wants to be closer to his daughter and we want to do everything we can to support that."
For his career, Tharpe played in 103 games for KU with 31 starts. He averaged 5.5 minutes during KU's 2011-12 Final Four season and 19.4 minutes with a 5.5 scoring average his sophomore season in 2012-13. He averaged 5.1 points for his career and his 304 assists were 18 shy of KU's top-20 list.
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