Louisville imposes more sanctions on basketball team in wake of escort scandal

Yahoo Sports

Louisville is self-imposing more sanctions on its men's basketball team.

The school will announce Wednesday that it is stripping itself of two scholarships and two official visits in the coming years. The scholarship reductions, from the NCAA maximum of 13, will be one apiece for 2017-18 and 2018-19. The official visit reductions will be one apiece this year and in 2016-17.

Louisville and coach Rick Pitino had already received a self-imposed postseason ban for this season. (AP)
Louisville and coach Rick Pitino had already received a self-imposed postseason ban for this season. (AP)

Louisville will also reduce its recruiting days by 30 this year – missing 24 this month and the remaining six in July. That is an approximate 24 percent reduction in recruiting opportunities for the season.

"After much deliberation, the University believes that self-imposing these penalties is appropriate," outside legal counsel Steve Thompson said in a Louisville release issued Wednesday. "While the University could elect to wait until the infractions process is complete, those consulted agree that these penalties are consistent with NCAA legislation, and imposing these penalties now is the right thing to do and may advance the University's goal of expediting resolution of this matter."

A source told Yahoo Sports that the additional self-sanctions are not a result of any additional violations discovered during the ongoing NCAA investigation of the basketball program. In February, Louisville acknowledged that violations have occurred and announced that it would not play in the 2016 postseason, withdrawing itself from the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments. That decision was made at that point to give the ACC adequate time to plan its tournament without the Cardinals; these additional sanctions are the result of taking more time to consider the facts of the case and what a proper self-imposed penalty should be, the source said.

The school began an investigation last fall, after being questioned about explosive allegations that were contained in a book being written by Louisville resident Katina Powell. The book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," was published Oct. 3, and it alleged that former basketball staff member Andre McGee paid Powell to provide strippers and escorts to dance for and have sex with players and recruits in exchange for money. The NCAA launched its own investigation thereafter.

Head coach Rick Pitino has adamantly maintained throughout the process that he had no knowledge of the violations, some of which were committed in an on-campus dormitory named for his late brother-in-law, Billy Minardi. Pitino is expected to return in 2016-17 as coach of the Cardinals and has the support of athletic director Tom Jurich.

The NCAA investigation is open-ended, with interviews of key personnel yet to occur. Louisville has received no notice of allegations, and a potential hearing before the Committee on Infractions is months away.

"As a member of the NCAA, the University takes its responsibility for NCAA compliance seriously, and has cooperated with the NCAA in an effort to close this difficult chapter as soon as possible consistent with NCAA enforcement procedures," the school said in its release. "Under NCAA rules, the University is not able to discuss the investigation or the facts developed to date, but looks forward to doing so at the conclusion of the NCAA enforcement process."

The additional self-imposed sanctions should not affect Louisville's ability to field a competitive team in 2016-17. Many early projections for next season have the Cardinals among the nation's top five. They finished the 2015-16 season 23-8 and finished fourth in the ACC.

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