Players from 2013 U of L team to sue NCAA over vacated title

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A group of former University of Louisville basketball players is planning to file a lawsuit against the NCAA in response to the penalties that cost the program its 2013 national championship.

Luke Hancock, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 NCAA Final Four, confirmed that the ex-U of L players will file the suit Wednesday and provide more details with their attorneys at an 11 a.m. press conference at the Galt House Hotel.

Speaking on "The Drive," the radio show he co-hosts with Mark Ennis on 93.9 The Ville, Hancock said players from all the Louisville teams affected by the NCAA sanctions will be part of the legal action.

Hancock also sought to distinguish the planned litigation from another fan-led effort that has raised questions about legal standing, or proof that they were harmed by the penalties handed down by college basketball's governing body.

Referring to the penalties, Hancock said: "We live it every day."

"We definitely feel that we have standing, and we're excited with the team we've put together to try and do something," he said.

In responses to Ennis' questions, Hancock declined to say whether the suit will be filed in federal or local court. He said he began to consider a lawsuit after U of L "somewhat exhausted their options" after the penalties were released in 2017. 

Hancock also declined to say what the former players hope to achieve, such as restoring the records that were stricken. "We feel like there's a wrong that needs to be righted -- and that's why we're doing it," he said. 

He also did not answer a question about whether the former players coordinated with the U of L athletics department, or whether former coach Rick Pitino may be part of the suit.

"I'm sure people want to know all the answers now and a lot more will come out in the next, I guess, 24 hours," he said. 

The penalties stem from a joint investigation by U of L and the NCAA into sex-themed parties and escorts for players and recruits that occurred from 2010 to 2014.

In June 2017, the NCAA found  U of L guilty of major violations and levied stiff sanctions, including 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 argued in an appeal that the penalties were "grossly excessive," but to no avail. In February, the NCAA upheld the earlier decision.

John Morgan from the Morgan & Morgan law firm tweeted Tuesday night that he's headed to Louisville on Wednesday to file a lawsuit against the NCAA:

Besides Hancock, former U of L guard Tim Henderson and others from the 2013 team plan to join the lawsuit, according to a source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

It would be the second suit filed over the penalties. A group of local boosters also has sued, but the NCAA has argued in that lawsuit that fans have no standing and requested a judge dismiss the case.

"While the NCAA does not in any way denigrate or diminish the passion of Plaintiff's commitment to UofL and its basketball program, the passion of sports fans do not entitle them do sue the NCAA on behalf of the universities that they love," according to a motion to dismiss the case. 

And U of L has agreed. 

"Sporting event spectators have no legally recognized stake in the outcome of the contest they pay to see," according to a motion by the university asking to be dismissed from the suit. 

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