Louisville hit with 4 NCAA violations, Pitino may face suspension: 4 things
This could've been worse for Louisville, but it's still not entirely out of the woods
The NCAA has charged Louisville's men's basketball program with four Level I violations stemming from a yearlong investigation into allegations made by a former escort, the school announced Thursday. But the NCAA did not conclude that Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino had any knowledge of the "impermissible inducements, offers and/or extra benefits in the form of adult entertainment, sex acts and/or cash" that ex-staffer Andre McGee provided to at least 17 recruits or current players, two AAU and/or summer coaches and one associate of a prospect.
Pitino was charged with failure to adequately monitor McGee, though.
That alone means the NCAA could eventually suspend Pitino, but Louisville will dispute that charge, school officials said.
"We believe that Mr. McGee acted furtively and note that the NOA does not indicate that any other university employee besides Mr. McGee had knowledge of these activities," read a statement attributed to Louisville president Dr. Neville Pinto and athletic director Tom Jurich. "We are confident in Coach Pitino, and we know he is and always has been committed to NCAA compliance."
Louisville now has 90 days to respond to the NCAA's notice of allegations.
It should be noted that the Cardinals have already endured various self-imposed penalties -- most notably a ban from the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Earlier this year, Pitino told CBS Sports he believes that will preclude the NCAA from banning his program from any future NCAA Tournaments.
Here are four more things to know about Louisville's NCAA case ...
1. THIS ALL STARTED WITH A BOOK
There was no public knowledge of the alleged violations at Louisville until Katina Powell, a self-described former escort, announced plans last October to publish a book called "Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen." Throughout 104 pages, she detailed how McGee paid her to throw parties at an on-campus dorm named for Pitino's late brother-in-law, Billy Minardi, and provide prospects and players with strippers and prostitutes. McGee initially denied Powell's allegations but later went quiet and ultimately refused to speak with the NCAA after losing his job at Missouri-Kansas City. Either way, the NCAA has concluded the crux of what Powell wrote is true. Multiple players and former recruits have corroborated her stories.
2. IT'S HARD TO SAY WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE 2013 NATIONAL TITLE
According to the NCAA's notice of allegations, Andre McGee's violation-filled parties started in 2010 and ran through 2014. So it's logical to conclude members of Louisville's 2013 national championship team accepted what the NCAA considers to be impermissible benefits, which means the NCAA has the power to retroactively rule them ineligible and make the Cardinals vacate every game in which they played. In other words, yes, the 2013 banner could theoretically come down. But it's worth noting that A) the NCAA has never stripped a men's basketball team of a national championship, and B) the NCAA is historically wildly inconsistent with how it chooses to punish and why it forces schools to vacate seasons. We'll have to wait and see.
3. LOUISVILLE WAS NOT HIT WITH LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL
Four Level I violations are bad, but this case would have been much worse had the NCAA charged Louisville with lack of institutional control. Once Powell's allegations were deemed believable, the best Louisville could hope for is that the NCAA would determine this was a McGee problem and not an athletic department problem. Such appears to be the case. No other university employee is formally tied to these violations. Basically, the NCAA's case is centered around one low-level staffer whom it alleges provided $5,400 in impermissible benefits. That's how Louisville avoided a lack of institutional control charge.
4. RICK PITINO MIGHT STILL FACE A SUSPENSION
As noted above, Rick Pitino was charged with failure to adequately monitor McGee. And though Louisville officials have said they will fight that charge, it's hard to reasonably argue McGee was properly monitored given that he allegedly threw 14 parties featuring strippers and escorts in an on-campus dorm without detection. So I suspect that charge will stick, which means Pitino will likely face a suspension not unlike the suspensions fellow Hall of Famers Jim Boeheim and Larry Brown endured last season. That said, any possible suspension probably wouldn't be served until the 2017-18 given the crawl at which NCAA cases typically unfold, which means Louisville's 2016-17 season will likely be played without incident.
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