Louisville Preps Response to NCAA Charges

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The University of Louisville has confirmed it plans to submit its response to the NCAA's notice of allegations Tuesday, its deadline to do so.

Louisville does not plan to hold a news conference or send out a public release about the response, school officials said. Once it receives Louisville's response, the NCAA enforcement staff will have 60 days to review the institution's arguments and counter again before the case goes before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, likely this spring.

The NCAA outlined four allegations in its notice in October, and Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich and interim President Neville Pinto indicated the university planned to dispute the item saying coach Rick Pitino failed to monitor former director of basketball operations Andre McGee.

McGee, who the NCAA said refused to cooperate with the investigation, is accused of paying thousands of dollars and providing game tickets to women in exchange for them dancing for and having sex with Louisville players and recruits.

The NCAA said Pitino violated "head coach responsibility legislation, as he is presumed responsible for the allegations laid out" against McGee and "did not rebut that presumption." Pitino, the notice said, showed a failure to monitor McGee by failing to "frequently spot-check the program to uncover potential or existing compliance problems."

Jurich and Pinto pointed out in their news conference and school-issued statement that it was important to note "what is not being alleged" against Pitino -- that he knew about McGee's wrongdoing.

Pitino said in October he was only guilty of trusting McGee.

"This young man made a very big mistake," Pitino said. "We apologize for his mistakes. ... We don't believe in any of this. I wish it would have been leaked to me, because it would have been stopped immediately."

If Louisville does dispute the failure to monitor charge as expected, the response will include Louisville's evidence against the allegation, said Stuart Brown, an Atlanta-based attorney who represented former Southern Mississippi and Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall in his NCAA case.

Because Pitino still works at the school, the legal counsel representing Louisville and Pitino likely spent the last three months coordinating their response, Brown said.

The arguments laid out in the school's response to the notice of allegations also will serve as key information in the defense Louisville brings to the Committee on Infractions hearing this year, if the university contests the Pitino allegation.

"Based on what's been said publicly, he and the university both believe that Coach Pitino has done enough things in terms of promoting compliance and monitoring compliance that the allegation against him is not substantiated and they disagree with it," Brown said. "That response could be four pages; it could be 24 pages. It just depends the scope of the evidence about the things Coach Pitino has done to promote and monitor compliance that was developed during the investigation."

The evidence in the response can include a coach's background, documents, transcripts of interviews, compliance forms and any other supporting information. Louisville and its legal counsel have access to the same investigation file from which NCAA enforcement staffers operate, Brown said, which means they can pull witness testimony from the NCAA's interviews as well.

"Cite interviews, cite witnesses," Brown said. "Those statements will be included and referenced and oftentimes quoted verbatim in the defensive narrative."

The NCAA's enforcement staff gets 60 days to answer the response with two documents of its own: the case summary and the reply.

The case summary is exactly what it sounds like, Brown said, with a brief rundown of the NCAA enforcement staff's allegations and whether the institution agrees or disagrees.

The reply is more detailed, with the enforcement staff countering the institution's arguments over allegations it is disputing.

The Committee on Infractions hearing is typically shortly after the case summary and reply are filed.

"It's at the hearing when the (committee), theoretically having read the notice of allegations, all the parties' responses and the enforcement staff's reply, asks questions of people attending the hearing and then issues its decision," Brown said.

If the institution wishes to appeal any of the committee's decisions, the case continues from there.

Greer writes for The Courier-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.

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January 17, 2017


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