Louisville must vacate 2013 basketball title after appeal denied
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville officials are not happy with the NCAA’s decision that mandates the school vacate its 2013 men’s basketball championship in the wake of an embarrassing sex scandal, and interim school president Greg Postel did not hide his disappointment.
It’s the first time a Division 1 men’s basketball program has been stripped of a national title. While acknowledging the scandal was unacceptable, Postel believes the school’s cooperation with the NCAA should have counted for more than it did.
But on Tuesday, Louisville announced that an NCAA appeals panel had upheld sanctions against the men’s program. As a result, the Cardinals have to vacate not only the championship, but 122 other victories and return about $600,000 in conference revenue from the 2012-15 NCAA Tournaments.
“I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong,” Postel said Tuesday. “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.”
Louisville may have presented a strong case, but the NCAA had its own convictions.
The decision by the governing body’s Infraction Appeals Committee ruled that the NCAA has the authority to take away championships for what it considers major rule violations. In the eight-page decision, the NCAA also refuted Louisville’s position that the governing body exceeded its boundaries and didn’t follow its own precedent established in other cases.
Louisville now must forfeit its third NCAA title, victories and income from 2011-15, part of the timeframe during which the violations occurred. The decision is the culmination of the NCAA’s investigation that followed allegations in a 2015 book by escort Katina Powell that former Cardinals basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits.
Former coach Rick Pitino repeatedly denied knowing about the activities described in Powell’s book, but the blemish on the program will never be forgotten — especially not after Tuesday’s sanctions.
Besides taking down the red-and-white banner that hung beside the American flag and two other title flags in the Cardinals’ downtown arena, Louisville must erase wins before and after that championship along with other records.
That process started almost immediately. Basketball spokesman Kenny Klein confirmed by Tuesday evening that both the 2013 title and 2012 Final Four banners were removed from the rafters at the KFC Yum! Center.
Postel doesn’t feel the punishment fits the violations.
“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,” Postel said in his statement. “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.”