The University of Louisville publicly released its formal response Monday to the NCAA's recent tied to the corruption scandal uncovered by the FBI in 2017. The response is laid out in a 104-page document in which the university argues that the case "arises out of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the University of Louisville."
Louisville's argument centers on the three individuals -- two Adidas representatives and a basketball middleman -- who were convicted in federal court in 2018 after the FBI alleged they conspired to pay five-star recruit Brian Bowen in exchange for his commitment to the school. In the response, the university argues they not only did not benefit from their relationship with them, but also that their relationship led to the school being defrauded.
"The NCAA enforcement staff now seeks to turn that fraud conviction on its head," Louisville states in its response. "It contends that, at the very same time the conspirators were actively defrauding the University and concealing their scheme from it, they were actually acting as "representatives of the institution's athletic interests." That remarkable contention serves as the predicate for the enforcement staff's allegation that the University is responsible for the offers and payments the conspirators made to a prospective student athlete's [redacted]. And it underlies the allegation that the University and its former head coach failed to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance among the conspirators working diligently to hide their misconduct from it.
"This argument is is as novel as it wrong," the university's response continues. "Until the cases arising from the Adidas scheme, the enforcement staff never alleged that an institution was responsible for the actions taken by its apparel supplier and their employees. And even if an institution had some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself."
Louisville is in a precarious position as it faces being punished as a repeat offender after the infamous stripper scandal that rocked the school. In this case, it faces one Level I allegation -- the most serious in the NCAA rulebook -- and three Level II allegations. As part of the stripper scandal, Louisville was forced to vacate its 2013 NCAA Championship, but is still serving a four-year probation the NCAA levied upon it in 2018. If the Level I violation sticks, it could serve a brutal blow to the program.
"The University agrees that its staff members committed the Level III recruiting violations ..." the response reads, adding that the NCAA's enforcement staff should consider lessening the other allegations.
"The panel should conclude that there is one aggravating factor and four mitigating factors," Louisville's argument says. "After weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors as to number and weight and considering the facts pertaining to the violations that are substantiated by the record, this case should be classified as Level II-Mitigated pursuant to Bylaw 22.214.171.124."