U of L’s 2013 national basketball title stricken from history

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

An NCAA appeals committee announced Tuesday that it has rejected the appeal of sanctions against the University of Louisville men’s basketball program and the school must vacate wins during the 2011-12 through 2014-15 seasons, including its 2013 NCAA Tournament title.

The ruling — a product of a sex scandal at U of L — marks the first time in NCAA history that a men’s basketball national championship has been banished from the record books.

“I cannot say this strongly enough. We believe the NCAA is simply wrong in this decision,” Louisville interim president Gregory Postel said during a press conference shortly after the ruling was announced.

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The university argued in its appeal last year that the punishment prescribed for the admitted infractions was excessive.

“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,” the statement from the NCAA said.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions last June found that Andre McGee, a Louisville graduate assistant who was later promoted to director of basketball operations, arranged striptease parties and sex acts for recruits and players on campus grounds from 2010 to 2014.

The scandal came to light in October 2015 when Katina Powell, a self-described “escort queen,” released a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” about her arrangement with McGee that alleged she was paid $10,000 over four years to provide women to dance and have sex with Louisville players and recruits at a campus dormitory. Powell ultimately spoke with NCAA investigators. McGee did not cooperate.

In addition to the salacious nature of the allegations, they were deemed an improper benefit and thus the players who were found to have participated were ruled ineligible.

In addition, former coach Rick Pitino was found to have failed to properly monitor his program. Pitino was to have served a five-game suspension under the ruling. However, a few months later, Pitino and the Louisville program got swept up in another scandal brought out by an FBI investigation into alleged basketball corruption. Pitino and two of his assistants were alluded to but not specifically named in federal indictments against other parties, including an executive with Louisville’s shoe and apparel sponsor, Adidas. Pitino has not been charged, but he and Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich were fired in the wake of the allegations.

Ineligible players, whose identities have not been released, competed for Louisville from 2011-2012 through the 2014-15 seasons, which included the NCAA Tournament it won in 2013 and its Final Four appearance in 2012. Louisville must vacate all wins during those seasons and remove the banners marking the tournament achievements.

Louisville went 30-10 in 2011-2012, it went 35-5 in 2012-13 and won the Big East regular season and national titles, and it went 31-6 in 2013-2014, reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Louisville must pay back the conference revenue sharing money earned from its postseason appearances during those years. Postel estimated that to be about $600,000.