At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, the NCAA officially announced the punishment that the Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball program would be receiving in response to an alleged prostitution scandal spanning between 2010-14.
The NCAA’s penalties are as follows:
- Cardinals Head Coach Rick Pitino suspended for the first five ACC conference games of the 2017-18 season.
- 10-year show cause penalty for former operations director, Andre McGee.
- A one-year show cause penalty for a former assistant.
- Vacating “basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014.”
- Four years of probation.
- A reduction of scholarships and recruiting restrictions.
- A $5,000 fine to the university.
- The university must return conference revenue earnings received from appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 2012-15.
The NCAA released a statement regarding the allegations towards Louisville:
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, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. The head men’s basketball coach violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules when he did not monitor the activities of his former operations director.
The operations director arranged adult entertainment and/or sex acts for 15 prospects, three enrolled student-athletes, a friend visiting with one of the prospects and two nonscholastic coaches. At least seven, and perhaps as many as 10, of the 15 prospects were under the age of 18 at the time. None of the prospects visiting campus knew that the activities would occur and none of them expected the activities to occur on their visits. Some of them expressed surprise and discomfort at what transpired. The panel noted it has not previously encountered a case like this, and that the violations were severe and were intended to provide a substantial recruiting advantage for the university.
In addition to these penalties, the NCAA also announced that they accepted the Cardinals’ self-imposed postseason ban for the 2015-16.
The penalties are the result of an NCAA investigation that began after Katina Powell, the former escort which the scandal revolved around, alleged that she was paid $10,000 by McGee for 22 shows at the Cardinals’ dorm, Minardi Hall, from 2010-14, which she detailed in her 2015 book Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.
The book chronicled how Powell and her associates were invited and paid to attend parties for more than a dozen recruits at the dorm room, where they performed dances and had sex with several recruits.
Soon after the NCAA’s release, Louisville announced that it will be appealing the ruling.
“For 35-some-odd years I’ve had a lot of faith in the NCAA and have reacted that way accordingly as a head basketball coach in the belief of their rules,” Pitino said Thursday during Louisville’s press conference Thursday afternoon. “Not only is it unjust … over-the-top severe, but personally I’ve lost a lot of faith in the NCAA that I’ve had over the last 35 years with what they just did.”
“I’m gonna put all my faith in the appeals committee that they will do the right thing. We believe we will win the appeal because it is right, it is just. What went on (the NCAA’s ruling) was unjust, inconceivable.”
If the NCAA’s ruling stands, the Cardinals will be at risk of having to vacate their 2012-13 NCAA National Championship since it came during the period of vacation that the NCAA has outlined. If so, they would become the first Division I men’s basketball team to vacate a national title
Of the few positives Louisville can take from this, the NCAA will not ban them from any future postseason appearances and will not impose a show cause on Pitino.