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NCAA Slams Louisville Basketball in Historic Ruling

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The University of Louisville has lost its 2013 national championship banner.

The NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee announced Tuesday that it upheld the NCAA Committee on Infractions' ruling that the Louisville men's basketball program must vacate 123 wins, including the 2013 title and 2012 Final Four appearance, as punishment in the school's escort case.

It is the first time in modern Division I men's basketball history that a championship was vacated.

"I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong to have made this decision," interim university president Greg Postel said.

The appeals panel also upheld a financial penalty that requires Louisville to repay shared revenue from the Cardinals' 2012-15 NCAA tournament appearances, including future revenue shared from those seasons.

Postel estimated the "bulk" of that punishment to be worth about $600,000, much lower than some previous estimates.

The decision, released via the NCAA's website, was the final step in an infractions process that lasted more than two years after Katina Powell's book, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen, prompted an NCAA investigation in October 2015.

The NCAA's enforcement staff found that former Louisville director of basketball operations Andre McGee paid Powell and other women thousands of dollars and gave them game tickets in exchange for stripteases and sex acts for players and recruits.

The 40 alleged acts added up to a Level I violation of NCAA rules, the gravest offense in the NCAA's penalty structure.

Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments and later added self-imposed recruiting sanctions after confirming the allegations.

"The university, under prior leadership, never made excuses for what took place," Postel said. "There was immediate recognition of the facts, the issuance of an apology, serious self-imposed penalties, extraordinary cooperation with the investigation that followed and the strengthening of and creation of policies and procedures to make sure that this never happened again. Under the NCAA's own rules, such cooperation should have been a factor in determining the severity of the punishment. Instead, it was ignored."

Interim Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra said he was unlikely to support the school challenging the NCAA's ruling through the legal system because it wouldn't be "worth dipping into the piggy bank."

The school could "theoretically" sue the NCAA, Postel said, but the subject hasn't been broached by university officials.

Legal experts who have studied Louisville's case said it would be difficult for the school to win a lawsuit against the NCAA because it never contested the organization's investigative or deliberative actions or tactics.

Instead, Louisville focused its arguments on specifics within the case without disputing that violations occurred. The appeals committee noted in its ruling that Louisville agreed the violations "were reprehensible and inexcusable," quoting the school from the oral argument transcript from the Dec. 13 appeal hearing.

The panel also included the vacation of records.

"The COI has not previously dealt with a case like this," the committee on infractions said in the original ruling. "The violations were serious, intentional, numerous and occurred over multiple years."

Tyra said the school has not yet determined where it will store the removed banners, which had already been removed from the KFC Yum Center rafters as of Tuesday afternoon.

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February 21, 2018
 
 
 

 

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