Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced Monday that power forward Chane Behanan – a key part of the Cardinals' 2013 national title run – has been dismissed from the team for repeated violations of university policy.
"He did not do the right things over and over and over," Pitino said.
Behanan first tweeted a hint at the news Monday morning, saying he will "miss this place."
"I want to apologize for letting down my family, teammates, coaches, [athletic director] Tom Jurich, this university and the Louisville fans," Behanan said in a statement later released by the university.
Pitino also said that guard Kevin Ware, who has played sparingly while coming back from a grisly compound leg fracture last March, may not play again this season and could apply for a medical redshirt from the NCAA. Pitino said he was "not 100 percent" sure that Ware is done for the season.
Coming less than 48 hours after a disappointing loss to archrival Kentucky that left the Cardinals without a quality non-conference victory, the news is a major blow to Louisville's repeat bid.
"Ware is not a factor," Pitino said in a news conference Monday afternoon. "He hasn't been all season. Chane is a major factor."
Pitino referenced "medical laws" as a reason for not discussing specifics of Behanan's transgressions. It was not an academic issue, Pitino said.
The Louisville athletic department, like virtually all others in major-college athletics, has a drug-testing policy that includes penalties for multiple failed drug tests. Among the penalties are suspension and, if the positive tests continue, dismissal.
In mid-October, Pitino announced that Behanan was suspended indefinitely for violations of university rules. That suspension only lasted one game before the 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior was back in action, with his coach citing a month of ideal behavior as the reason for reinstatement. Behanan has spent most of this season coming off the bench and rarely performed like the player who was a major force in the national title game against Michigan, or the 2012 West Regional Most Valuable Player.
Still, his loss is a major one for a team that has very little quality size. Louisville was pounded on the backboard by Kentucky and has been searching for additional productivity inside.
Pitino said Behanan has the option of staying in school as a regular student, and perhaps hiring a personal trainer and an agent to work toward a professional career. Or he could transfer to another school.
Behanan's minutes probably will go to a combination of freshman Akoy Agau, who grabbed two rebounds against Kentucky in limited action and small forward Wayne Blackshear, who would be playing out of his natural wing position. Starter Montrezl Harrell can also be expected to shoulder additional playing time.