U of L Will Appeal NCAA Penalties Against Hoops Program
The NCAA Committee on Infractions has released its report on the sex scandal involving the University of Louisville men’s basketball program.
Among the penalties is a five game suspension for head coach Rick Pitino, and four years of probation to begin now through June 14, 2021.
During his suspension, Pitino cannot be present in the arena where games are played and cannot have contact with players or coaching staff.
At a news conference on Thursday, Pitino said he will appeal the finding and the punishment, calling the ruling "over the top."
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Pitino's attorney, Scott Tompsett, issued a statement calling the NCAA's finding "one of the weakest" he's ever seen against a head coach.
Tompsett said the decision was based on a "vaguely-worded rationale" about creating an environment that allowed the violations to occur.
"But the decision does not identify a single specific thing that Coach Pitino should have done, that he wasn’t already doing, that would have either prevented or detected the illicit activities," Tompsett said in the statement. "The secret and deliberately hidden illicit activities certainly did not occur because Coach Pitino did not properly train Mr. McGee."
The NCAA is also vacating "basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014."
U of L Compliance Consultant Chuck Smrt on Thursday said the vacation of records could affect 108 regular season and 15 post season games, including the Cards' 2013 National Championship win.
The NCAA has handed down similar punishments to other schools.
Mississippi Valley State University’s records were vacated in March of this year. The NCAA ruled the school improperly certified the eligibility of 28 student-athletes in seven different sports.
MVSU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director Renia Edwards said the championship and tournament wins in which any ineligible students competed would be vacated.
“Since those students did compete when they were ineligible to compete, if that team got a win, that win pretty much had to be vacated,” Edwards said. “It had to be taken off the books. It didn’t add a loss to that team’s record, but the record or the history of a win is taken away.”
Edwards said the university must supply the list of ineligible students to the NCAA. Whatever contests they competed in would then be vacated.
In a statement, Interim U of L President Greg Postel called the penalties handed down by the NCAA "excessive" and said the school plans to appeal "all aspects of the penalties."
"The entire U of L community is saddened by what took place," Postel said. "It never should have happened, and that is why the school acted to severely penalize itself in 2016. Today, however, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions went beyond what we consider to be fair and reasonable."
The program self-imposed several sanctions last year, including a postseason ban, and a reduction in scholarships and recruiting visits by assistant coaches after finding that some rules violations occurred.
"We believe the penalties imposed today are unfair to the U of L community and our current and former student-athletes, many of whom have already paid a heavy price for actions that did not involve them," Postel said in the statement. "This ruling is also unfair to Coach Pitino, who we believe could not have known about the illicit activities."
Read the decision here:
NCAA U of L Public Infractions Decision
An investigation was launched in late 2015 following the publication of the book "Breaking Cardinal Rules," in which author Katina Powell claimed she was paid by former basketball staff member Andre McGee to provide strippers and prostitutes to Cardinal players and recruits.
In a report released in October, the NCAA found that U of L committed four violations and said Pitino failed to adequately monitor McGee’s activities.
U of L is disputing that ruling. School officials met with the NCAA in April of this year.
This story has been updated.