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Louisville escapes major sanctions in hoops bribery case

The Cardinal Bird mascot logo on the UofL campus.
More than 1,700 people have signed a petition asking for better COVID-19 safety at the University of Louisville.

An independent panel has placed the University of Louisville basketball program on two years of probation and fined it $5,000, but spared the school major penalties from NCAA allegations leveled in the aftermath of a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball.

David Benck, the chief member of the Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP), which reviewed claims against U of L, spoke at a press conference explaining the charges Thursday.

"The panel was intentional in not prescribing penalties that would have a negative impact ono the current student athletes," Benck said.

The IARP also declined to penalize former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino. Chris Mack, Pitino’s successor who was fired in January, also was not penalized for additional allegations announced last year by the NCAA. Benck said the panel viewed the decision as "exonerating.".

Former Cardinals assistant coaches Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson received two-year show-cause orders for Level I violations.

U of L athletic director Josh Heird responded positively to the news the program wouldn't face severe punishment.

“It should be noted that former and current players, coaches, staff and their families have all been significantly impacted because of these allegations. At the end of the day, We are relieved this process is finalized and we can now direct our full attention to the future of our men’s basketball program," he said at a separate press conference.

A press release from the university called the process "fair and deliberate" and expressed gratitude for fair judgment while also saying five years was too long for the accusations to stand without a decision.

"The process left the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program in limbo and created significant competitive disadvantages."

The release said Thursday's decision marked a new chapter in the school's history.

This story has been updated with additional detail.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.