Columnist: Shame on Louisville and NCAA has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

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The Buffalo News (New York)


The NCAA isn't really serious about enforcing its own rules. It can't be serious if it believes the sanctions it handed down Thursday to the Louisville men's basketball program were sufficient for the crime committed.

Louisville, which is appealing the ruling, is apparently even less serious about wanting to comply with the NCAA's rules. Rick Pitino called the penalties, which include a five-game ACC suspension for Pitino, four years of probation for the program, vacated wins, scholarship reductions and a $5,000 fine, "unjust" and "over-the-top severe" Thursday.

The NCAA sanctions came about as a result of the scandal that involved Pitino's former assistant Andre McGee allegedly hiring prostitutes and strippers to attend parties for prospective recruits on campus visits. I'm not sure if there's a more direct and blatant way to break the NCAA rules about extra benefits in recruiting.

Pitino doesn't believe he did anything wrong in this scandal. He has also become quite good at throwing McGee under the bus.

Don't worry, though. McGee, who was a low-level assistant, has a 10-year show-cause order.

Pitino was cited for "failure to monitor," which is maybe the understatement of the year. McGee, however, lost his career and is banned from coaching for 10 years. The NCAA once again let the big fish off the hook and hammered the little fish.

McGee allegedly paid the prostitutes and strippers and arranged the parties, and did so on multiple occasions between 2010 and 2014.

Pitino claims he had no idea this was going on. That may be true, but it is his program, and the buck stops with him.

He hired McGee, and it was his job to know what was going on. It was his job to make sure recruits weren't violating NCAA rules. It was his job to know what his assistants were up to.

The NCAA is a bully, though, and would rather make an example out of people or schools that are inconsequential.

Pitino is a Hall of Fame coach, and Louisville is one of the best programs in the country. It is one of the NCAA's crown jewels and drives the bus toward those billion-dollar TV deals for the NCAA Tournament.

That's why the NCAA's enforcement committee is a joke and always will be.

Pitino should be the one who has the 10-year show-cause order. McGee should never be allowed to coach again.

The NCAA also took away four scholarships over four years, four opportunities for athletes to earn a free education, and did so because the adults didn't act right.

That's nonsense, too. The NCAA shouldn't be in the business of taking away opportunities from students; it should be creating them. How about taking away the four scholarships from Pitino and giving them to another athletic program?

Louisville men's basketball should absolutely be on probation for four years, but that should include a four-year postseason ban.

Vacated wins and titles are silly. It is the dumbest "penalty" the NCAA can hand out. Those games were played, and we all saw them.

The NCAA, it seems, doesn't want to punish the right people. A school president, an athletic director and a coach were all charged with overseeing the program and had to sign off on hiring McGee. School presidents and athletic directors never seem to be disciplined in these types of cases. That is ridiculous, too. If school presidents and athletic directors faced sanctions and suspensions for these kinds of things under their watch, they would become far rarer.

Louisville got off extremely light. The scholarship reductions are immoral, but they are minimal. The five-game suspension of Pitino is laughable. The vacated wins, well, you know ...

The only thing more depressing than the NCAA's unwillingness to properly punish a school that broke one of the most important sets of rules is the fact that the adults at Louisville are allowing Pitino to play the victim and truly believe they are being punished too severely.

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June 18, 2017


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