LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Five members of the of 2013 University of Louisville basketball team are suing the NCAA in an attempt to "clear names" and restore the team's national title.
During a news conference on July 11, attorney John Morgan called the NCAA "an organization totally out of control" and accused the organization of portraying players in a "false light."
"We're here to get (Rick) Pitino's championship back," said Morgan, who heads the prominent nationwide personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan. "But more than that, we're here to get these players' good names back."
Among those adding their names to the suit are Luke Hancock, who was named Most Outstanding Player 2013 NCAA Final Four. Plaintiffs also include former players Gorgui Dieng, Tim Henderson, Mike Marra and Stephan Van Treese.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, is seeking a declaration from the NCAA saying the players "did not engage in striptease dances, prostitution and tipping of strippers as implied."
During the lengthy news conference, Morgan attacked the NCAA multiple times. "The NCAA is a giant. But the NCAA is also a morally bankrupt organization who for years, and years, and years has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged young people throughout our country," he said.
Accord to the lawsuit the NCAA "implied to the public...that Plaintiff Hancock had his MOP award vacated due to Plaintiff Hancock's implied actions."
Morgan also said the term 'student athlete' is mislabeled. "They should not be called student athletes. They should be called student servants. Indentured servants who risk their body, spend an inordinate amounts of time perfecting their games and basically get nothing."
The title and banner were stripped from U of L as part of penalties handed down from the NCAA over stripper parties and escorts for players and recruits that occurred from 2010 to 2014.
"Despite no wrongdoing or improper conduct by the Plaintiffs' the NCAA, without just cause, vacated, removed or otherwise impaired the Plaintiffs' wins, championships and individual honors, awards and recognitions," according to the suit.
In June 2017, the NCAA found U of L committed major violations and levied stiff sanctions, including the erasing of as many as 123 victories from 2010 to 2014, the vacating of the 2013 NCAA men's basketball championship, 2012 Final Four appearance, two Big East championships and an American Athletic Conference championship.
Last October, U of L appealed calling the penalties "grossly excessive." But in February, the NCAA upheld the earlier decision.
Morgan said the "false light claim" would be part of the lawsuit. He said it shackles a person from reaching full potential in life, as allegations hang over them.
Hancock, the only player at the press conference, said he is asked about the scandal all the time. "It's been five years, and I can't tell you two days where I've gone without someone asking if I had strippers or prostitutes in the dorm," he said.
The University of Louisville is not a plaintiff in the action.
The suit is separate from one filed by U of L fans. A group of local boosters sued over the 2013 championship, but the NCAA has argued in that lawsuit that fans have no standing and requested a judge dismiss the case.
Here is a copy of the lawsuit:
- Players from 2013 U of L team to sue NCAA over vacated title
- U of L fan and alumni group prepares to file lawsuit against the NCAA
- Replica of Louisville's 2013 national championship banner goes up outside NuLu bar
- CRAWFORD | U of L files NCAA appeal -- asks that 'unjust' and 'disproportionate' penalties be overturned
- Judge: U of L likely made 'deliberate attempt' to conceal basketball scandal records
- NCAA Basketball Commission: ban cheaters, end 1-and-done rule
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