BOZICH & CRAWFORD | Louisville must vacate victories, Pitino suspended in NCAA sanctions
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled on its case with the University of Louisville basketball program Thursday morning.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — In perhaps the harshest penalties ever assigned to a Division I men’s basketball program in the modern era, the University of Louisville must vacate its basketball records from 2010 through 2014 in which ineligible players participated under penalties handed down by the NCAA infractions committee on Thursday in connection to the sex-for-recruits scandal in the men’s basketball program.
Louisville won the 2013 men's basketball title and also appeared in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. During a noon conference call, NCAA representatives will be asked to explain if that means that Louisville's 2013 NCAA championship banner must come down. U of L has 45 days to respond to the NCAA ruling by determining which games the ineligible players participated in.
Cardinals’ coach Rick Pitino was given a five-game suspension, to be served during U of L’s first five Atlantic Coast Conference games. Director of basketball operations Andre McGee, who was found to have arranged the stripper parties in the men’s basketball dorm, was given a ten-year show cause penalty.
The program faces four years of probation going forward, and must vacate the records from the 2010-14 seasons, which could include 123 victories, two Big East Conference Championships, and an American Athletic Conference championship. The school will be ordered to return its financial shares from four NCAA Tournaments.
There will be no further post-season ban or reduction of scholarships.
The NCAA began its investigation of the U of L program in 2015, following the publication of “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” a 104-page book written by Katina Powell with Dick Cady, a former newspaper reporter in Indianapolis.
Powell alleged that at the request of former basketball director of operations Andre McGee she arranged for women who stripped and provided sex for U of L players and recruits from 2010-through-2014.
McGee, also a former U of L player, left U of L for assistant coaching job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2014. McGee declined to talk to NCAA investigators and resigned from his position at UMKC in 2015.
U of L responded to a notice of inquiry from the NCAA with a self-investigation that was directed by Chuck Smrt, a former NCAA official who is the president of The Compliance Group, a company that assists universities in NCAA matters.
In February 2016, former U of L president Dr. James Ramsey announced multiple self-imposed penalties against the basketball program.
Louisville took itself out of the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournaments, even though the Cardinals finished 23-8 and projected as a possible No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament after they finished fourth in the ACC regular season.
Ramsey’s decision was sharply criticized by many Louisville fans because it was unfair to two U of L seniors, Damion Lee and Trey Lee, who were unable to play in the post-season after transferring here for their senior years.
Louisville added to the self-imposed penalties by reducing the number of players on scholarship last season from 13 to 11 and by cutting back on the number of recruiting visits and off-campus recruiting trips and contacts by the coaching staff.
After the Cards sat out the 2016 post-season, Pitino said that he believed the self-imposed penalties should have satisfied the NCAA.
Louisville returned to post-season play last season, finishing 25-9 while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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