For years, every time I was asked what kind of punishment schools with infractions cases being handled via the Independent Accountability Resolution Process should expect, I consistently said it was impossible to know for sure because this was an entirely new way of doing things, and until an Independent Resolution Panel ruled on at least one of them I didn't feel comfortable speculating too much about what's to come.
But the IRP has now ruled on three of them.
A track record has been established.
So let me be the first to congratulate Kansas. Because if the way the IRP ruled on the NC State case, the Memphis case and the Louisville case is any indication, there's really no reason for KU fans to continue worrying about a possible postseason ban. Right or wrong, the non-sports people ruling on these cases have indicated they're uninterested in taking away postseason opportunities from student-athletes who had nothing to do with the issues at hand while also making it clear they simply do not understand the cases they've been asked to adjudicate.
That's the lesson from Thursday -- when the IRP announced that Louisville will face no postseason ban or otherwise meaningful punishment despite the fact that an Adidas representative agreed to buy a five-star prospect for the school for $100,000. And the reason Louisville will face no postseason ban or otherwise meaningful punishment despite the fact that an Adidas representative agreed to buy a five-star prospect for the school for $100,000 is because, well, I'll just let panel chair David Benck tell you himself.
"It is our interpretation that (Adidas was) primarily motivated by brand promotion, and they were trying to take steps to promote their brand, not promote the institution," Benck explained.
That is LOL hilarious.
To be clear, I genuinely don't mind that Louisville was only hit with minor recruiting restrictions and a small fine it can easily pay by selling popcorn because this stuff all started more than five years ago, everybody involved has either moved on or been moved on, and, at this point, who cares? Louisville has been to the NCAA Tournament just once, and lost more ACC games than it has won, since Rick Pitino was fired in October 2017 -- and the Cardinals are currently projected to finish near the bottom of the league under first-year coach Kenny Payne. Thus, you can reasonably argue Louisville has been punished enough.
So ... whatever.
But, that said, the lack of logic the IRP used to reach its decision is truly astonishing because it is impossible for anybody who understands how college basketball works even a little to conclude that Adidas was doing anything other than BUYING A PLAYER FOR LOUISVILLE when it agreed to pay Brian Bowen's father $100,000 in exchange for his son's enrollment. If you want to argue Pitino didn't orchestrate it or even know about it, I'm happy to listen to that argument. But Benck saying with a straight face that Adidas was just trying to promote its brand, as opposed to help Louisville add a talented player, is utterly ridiculous.
Adidas has basketball stars Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Anthony Edwards, Donovan Mitchell, Derrick Rose, James Harden, Evan Mobley, Fred VanVleet, Jaylen Brown, John Wall and Zach Levine to promote its brand -- not to mention baseball stars Aaron Judge and Alex Bregman, golf stars Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, football stars Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, and soccer stars Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema. But, sure, the sportswear company also needed Brian Bowen, a teenager very few people outside of recruiting circles even knew existed in 2017, to promote its brand.
Do you realize how dumb that sounds?
Either way, it seems like great news for Kansas because if the IRP doesn't want to punish current student-athletes (like it has now said multiple times), and if the IRP doesn't believe Louisville should be severely punished for Adidas paying a prospect to enroll at Louisville (like it showed Thursday), then why should KU be worried about its pending punishment considering the crux of the case against it is that Adidas was similarly recruiting illegally for the Jayhawks? I mean, I guess I could see coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend getting some sort of suspensions on top of the four-game suspensions that were self-imposed earlier this week, or show-cause penalties, or both. (Or nothing.) But a postseason ban for the reigning national champs has forever been the only realistic punishment to be feared, and it's now clear that the IRP can't go there with Kansas without completely contradicting the way it's ruled on other cases to date.
So rest easy, KU fans.
This time last year, none of us knew what to expect as it pertained to the punishments these IARP cases would deliver because none of them had yet been resolved. But now we know what we're dealing with, and what we're dealing with is another toothless committee that doesn't even understand why a sportswear company pays recruits. So, with that track record established, the most reasonable thing to assume is that Kansas will compete in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and every one after that until Bill Self either retires or has the type of bad season he's literally never had since taking over nearly 20 years ago.