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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
I don't blame the ACC for expanding to 14 schools a few years ago. Had commissioner John Swofford not cherry-picked Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East, the ACC likely would have been raided by other leagues.
It was survival of the fittest, and expansion saved the ACC, guaranteeing its status among the Power 5. Without expansion, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Florida State might be in the SEC.
But as the Bible says, you reap what you sow, and the ACC is suffering from its disastrous decision in 2014 to replace Maryland with Louisville.
West Virginia or UConn would have been a better choice. Fair or not, Louisville has long been regarded as a renegade school, academically ranked among the worst in the Power 5.
Now Louisville finds itself in the center of perhaps the biggest NCAA scandal of all time. Ten people have been arrested, including coaches from four schools, after the Department of Justice conducted an undercover investigation of Adidas, a shoe company that pays colleges hundreds of millions of dollars to wear its attire.
The investigation is ongoing, and the list of schools and coaches involved surely will grow.
The feds say Adidas promised six-figure payments to players' families for committing to schools who wear its shoes and uniforms.
Louisville, which has a $160 million, 10-year contract with Adidas, was linked to a $100,000 payoff for one recruit, now on campus, and for a proposed $150,000 payoff for another from the class of 2019.
Louisville's behavior in this scandal, and others, cries out for the NCAA death penalty.
The ACC should also reverse the mistake it made in 2014, kick Louisville to the curb and invite UConn to replace the Cardinals.
Yes, it would be messy. And no, UConn football isn't very good, though it surely would improve in the ACC.
It would be a painful divorce, but doing the right thing often involves pain.
Less than four months ago, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was suspended for five games and the school had scholarships reduced after the NCAA confirmed allegations that a Louisville assistant provided strippers and prostitutes to 15 teenage recruits.
Instead of being contrite, Louisville officials were outraged. Pitino claimed to know nothing about the sex parties.
"Not only was this unjust and over the top in its severity, but I've lost a lot of faith in the NCAA," Pitino said then.
He said the recent allegations of payoffs to recruits "came as a complete shock to me" and blamed "a few bad actors," but, of course, not himself.
Thankfully, Louisville has essentially fired Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. Good riddance to both, even if its actions are too little and come too late.
Jurich showed his tolerance for putrid behavior when he hired Bobby Petrino as football coach in 2014. Petrino was forced to resign at Arkansas after admitting to an extramarital affair with a subordinate.
Nor is athletics Louisville's only problem. School President James Ramsey resigned in 2016 due, in part, to scandals involving the school's foundation. Kentucky's governor eventually fired the entire board of trustees.
The school is a mess, and regardless of what the NCAA does, the ACC needs to act. The league once had a sterling reputation for ethics, but that's now in tatters.
Syracuse, Louisville and Miami have all been sanctioned since joining the league. North Carolina will receive sanctions for its academic scandal later this fall.
Through it all, the ACC has preferred to allow the NCAA to investigate and then work with the schools to ensure no more issues arise. That didn't work at Louisville.
We don't know how far the federal investigation will reach, though a statement from an undercover agent released by the FBI implies it will go much farther.
"Because this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause, it does not include all of the facts that I have learned during the course of the investigation," the agent said in the statement.
"Our investigation is ongoing," FBI assistant director Bill Sweeney added. "And we are currently conducting interviews."
The NCAA had better act quickly - and forthrightly - once people start pleading guilty, because Congress is threatening to get involved.
Yet, the pressure on the NCAA and ACC from TV and business interests will be tremendous. Louisville is essentially the city's major sports franchise. Business leaders will cry foul if the city's downtown arena loses college basketball even for a year or two.
And the TV networks that do business with the ACC surely will demand a refund if Louisville basketball isn't a part of the deal.
Many say the advent of big money in college athletics made this kind of scandal inevitable. I'm not so sure. Stronger enforcement might have forced better behavior.
The NCAA hasn't used the death penalty on a Division I program since 1987, when it shut down Southern Methodist football for a year.
That seemed to get everyone's attention, sending a message that the NCAA was serious about enforcing the rules. The same message needs to be sent again.
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