NCAA Hands Down Its Punishment To Louisville

The NCAA handed down major punishment to the Louisville men's basketball program and coach Rick Pitino on Thursday for violations involving players receiving sexual favors arranged by a former staffer.

Pitino, cited for a failure to monitor, will be suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games in the 2017-18 season, and the school will be placed on four years of probation.

Louisville must also vacate records in which three student-athletes involved competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014 and will have four scholarships reduced during its probationary period.

The Cardinals won the NCAA national championship in 2013.

Compliance consultant Chuck Smrt, hired by U of L to run its internal investigation, said the ruling could impact 108 regular-season and 15 NCAA Tournament wins, including the Cards' 2013 national championship or their 2012 Final Four appearance.

"The university will provide a written report containing the games impacted (by the vacation of records)," the NCAA's release said, "to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release."

The school did announce its intention to appeal the punishment.

"The committee has accepted our self-imposed penalties and levied additional severe penalties that we believe are excessive," interim Louisville president Greg Postel said in a statement.

"The entire UofL community is saddened by what took place. 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. We intend to appeal all aspects of the penalties."

The ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions is the culmination of an investigation that dated back to late August 2015, when Louisville was first informed of a book written by escort Katina Powell that alleged former basketball staffer Andre McGee paid for dances and sex on behalf of players and recruits.

The subsequent investigation from the allegations resulted in the school self-imposing penalties that included a postseason ban for the 2015-16 team. No further postseason ban will be imposed. Louisville also already voluntarily reduced two scholarships in 2016-17.

McGee received a 10-year, show-cause penalty from the NCAA. Former assistant Brandon Williams received a one-year show cause order for his involvement.

In October 2016, the NCAA charged Louisville with four major allegations tied to McGee's misdeeds. They included an allegation that Rick Pitino failed to appropriately monitor McGee to uncover compliance problems.

Louisville contested the allegation against Pitino (which was met with a reply from the NCAA), and the case went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions during a meeting in April in Cincinnati.

In the ruling, the NCAA said even though Pitino contended he was not aware of the violations, he was ultimately responsible for McGee's actions.

"By his own admission, the head coach and his assistants did not interact with prospects from 10 p.m. until the next morning," the NCAA release stated. "The panel noted that the head coach essentially placed a peer of the student-athletes in a position of authority over them and visiting prospects, and assumed that all would behave appropriately in an environment that was, for all practical purposes, a basketball dorm."

Pitino will miss home games against Virginia, Pittsburgh and Duke and road contests at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

According to a release from on behalf of Pitino, the coach plans to appeal the punishment.

The finding against coach Pitino is one of the weakest I've ever seen against a head coach," Scott Tompsett said in a release.

"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."

Erick Smith, USA Today Sports


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