BOZICH | Burning gap in Louisville basketball NCAA penalties: The Why?
The appeals committee for the NCAA Committee of Infractions upheld the penalties against the University of Louisville basketball program but the "Why" behind the scandal remains unanswered.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After all the fussing, investigating, litigating and finger-pointing in the University of Louisville basketball sex and prostitution scandal, the penalties were officially confirmed as stinging Tuesday.
Scratch the 2013 NCAA title and 2012 Final Four appearance.
Prop open the checkbook and send at least $600,000 back to the NCAA. Brace yourself for another blast of ugly national publicity.
But there remains one aggravating item that we don’t know and might never know:
We’ve got the beginnings and the end of a Carl Hiassen novel but five chapters from the middle of the book remain missing.
Why did Andre McGee, a former player and staff member, allegedly organize these activities that interim U of L president Dr. Postel described as “appalling,” after the NCAA announced the appeals committee upheld the ruling of the Committee on Infractions.
Sex and prostitutes in the basketball dorm. That’s why Louisville became the first Division I basketball team to lose a championship banner.
Sex and prostitutes in the basketball dorm. As Postel rightly noted, some people will never get past that.
But why didn't anybody take even 24 seconds to think this behavior could turn the basketball program to rubble? Nobody saw enough or knew enough to stop this? One person's outrageous idea of a good time turned one of the Top 10 programs in college basketball into a national punch line? Hard to believe.
Enough piles of money have been burned to fund dozens of scholarships and buy hundreds of laptops. Investigators. Lawyers. Meeting after meeting. Reports after report. Radio talk show hell.
Careers have been torpedoed. Reputations stained. Endless questions have been asked. Many of them have been answered, including the one about how much of the NCAA penalty against the U of L basketball program will stick.
The harshest parts will stick. The 2013 championship banner will come down, the most publicly stinging precedent-setter in Division I basketball history.
Victories will come off the board for the school as well as the crumpled resume of former coach Rick Pitino. The school will be writing a check – between $600,000 and $1 million – and rewriting its record book.
The future of the program after the current team finishes its tournament run looks uneven and daunting. Louisville has no recruits for next season. Fans are angry, numb and disillusioned. Attendance is down.
The tumult of this ordeal as well as Play for Pay scandal stir around the team and opposing fans wherever Louisville plays. There’s never a great time to play in front of the Cameron Crazies, but Duke is where Louisville will play at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The Play for Play scandal that the FBI continues to investigate has added to the circus.
But The Big Questions?
Forget about it.
Who developed and organized this absurd scheme? Who funded it? What was the motivation?
Did anybody on the University of Louisville basketball staff other than Andre McGee know what was happening and try to shut it down?
Where is McGee? Is he remorseful or does he consider himself a convenient fall guy?
Don’t look for any of that information from the NCAA. They don’t have it.
All we have are the denials from Rick Pitino and others around the program that they were not involved, even though we have confirmation from recruits and players that the stripper parties and prostitution occurred at Minardi Hall, the basketball dorm.
Oh, we know the outline of what happened. Katina Powell laid out the blue print when she released her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” back in October 2015.
We know that something happened and that it was wrong, by the standards of NCAA rules or the standards or reasonable behavior that most of us we learn in the second grade. U of L conceded something stunk within the basketball program when the school withdrew the formidable 2015 team from the NCAA basketball tournament and also imposed sanctions on the program.
We certainly believe that McGee, a former U of L player, low-level staff member and director of basketball operations, helped arrange performances by strippers and prostitutes at the basketball dormitory.
That is the focus of Powell’s book. Katina Powell will never be nominated for Citizen of the Year but investigators from the NCAA and U of L corroborated much of her story after they talked to players and recruits. Re-read the report by the NCAA investigative committee that led to the penalties recommended by the Infractions Committee and essentially backed up by the Appeals Committee.
That lack of substantive information about how and why this prostitution and stripper thing got rolling will leave a mammoth gap in this saga that will be gnawed at with speculation and conspiracy until it is filled.
IF it is filled.
Only McGee can fill in most of the blanks. He has not talked – to the NCAA or the media. Odds are that he does not plan to answer a single question as long as there is a possibility that McGee could be charged and prosecuted for his involvement in the scheme.
McGee has not spoken in nearly 2 ½ years. I don’t expect that to change.
Was McGee responding to competitive pressure communicated to him by other members of the basketball staff to create ways to upgrade Louisville’s recruiting?
Was he merely an immature rogue trying to create some fun nights for everybody involved?
Most importantly, was he acting alone?
Choose your side. Make your case. You’re not wrong. You’re not right – at least until the rest of the story unfolds. If it unfolds. Coming up – more radio talk show hell.
But we can’t fill in the important blanks in the sex scandal that toppled the basketball program and certainly started the process of ending the careers of Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.
We still don’t know what happened in the University of Louisville basketball sex and prostitution scandal. We’ll never know.
It’s annoying. But it’s true.
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