The NCAA announced on Tuesday that the University of Louisville must vacate all of its wins from the 2011-2012 through 2014-2015 seasons, upholding its earlier decision that the men’s basketball team fielded ineligible athletes during those seasons.
The 123 wins includes the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four appearance.
“Louisville must vacate men’s basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible during the 2011-12 through 2014-15 academic years according to a decision issued by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee,” the NCAA said in its statement. “The appeals committee also upheld the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions penalty that requires the university to return to the NCAA money received through conference revenue sharing for its appearances in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships.
“In the Committee on Infractions’ decision, the panel found that a former Louisville director of basketball operations acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation. The violations in the case resulted in some men’s basketball student-athletes competing while ineligible.”
For its part, Louisville says “the NCAA is simply wrong.”
A letter by the school’s interim president, Dr. Greg Postel, reads in part, “I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong. We disagree with the NCAA ruling for reasons we clearly stated in our appeal. And we made a strong case – based on NCAA precedent – that supported our argument.
“From Day One, the university has admitted that the actions of the former operations director and any others involved under previous leadership were offensive and inexcusable. That is why we apologized immediately, cooperated fully with the NCAA, self-imposed penalties that were appropriate to the offenses and made significant changes to ensure incidents like this never happen again. Under the NCAA’s own rules, this cooperation should have been a factor in the severity of the punishment. Instead, it was ignored.”
Postel also wrote, “The NCAA’s ruling cannot change the accomplishments or the excitement generated by our Cardinals basketball team. It cannot change the feeling many of us shared as we experienced the victories those teams earned. And it cannot change the love so many of us have for this great university.”
Coach Rick Pitino got a tattoo to commemorate that 2013 national championship, which looks a little different now.
“In its appeal, the university argued the vacation of records and financial penalty should be set aside because they are excessive. The university contended that the penalties were based on participation of student-athletes who were not culpable in the violations, received negligible benefits as a result, and for whom reinstatement would likely have been granted.
The Committee on Infractions responded to the appeal by stating the penalties were appropriate due to the serious, intentional and numerous violations orchestrated by a university staff member for nearly four years. It further argued that student-athletes do not have to be culpable for the vacation penalty to be appropriate, and because the serious nature of the violations resulted in the participation of ineligible student-athletes, the vacation of records penalty was appropriate.
In its review of the case, the appeals committee found that because of the serious and intentional violations with direct involvement of a university staff member, the Committee on Infractions panel was within its legislated authority to prescribe the vacation of records and financial penalty. The appeals committee stated when student-athletes participate while ineligible, these types of penalties are appropriate. It also did not find the university’s argument about what could have happened during the reinstatement process compelling, stating there is no guarantee regarding the reinstatement process.
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