College Sports

Will Louisville have to vacate 2013 hoops title in wake of NCAA penalties?

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. The Associated Press

Will Louisville become the first school to vacate a NCAA championship in men’s basketball?

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions handed down penalties on Thursday in the Louisville case that involved striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others.

Among penalties prescribed by the committee: a suspension of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games this season, four years of probation and the vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes completed while ineligible from December 2010 through July 2014.

Louisville played in the 2012 Final Four and won the 2013 NCAA title.

Which players were ineligible?

Louisville has 45 days to provide a written report containing that information and the games impacted to the NCAA.

During a conference call on Thursday, NCAA officials did not identify the potentially impacted games.

Louisville will appeal the ruling.

“The Committee on Infractions has gone too far and taken actions that are unwarranted,” Louisville interim president Greg Postel said in a statement. “We will appeal.”

Pitino’s attorney Scott Thopsett called the finding against Pitino “one of the weakest I’ve seen against a head coach.”

The NCAA found a basketball operations director — Andre McGee, who later became an UMKC assistant coach — arranged adult entertaining and/or sex acts for 15 prospects, three enrolled student-athletes, a friend visiting one of the prospects and two non-scholastic coaches inside Minardi Hall, which housed basketball players.

In its report, the NCAA noted it had never encountered a similar case, that the violations were severe and were intended to provide a substantial recruiting advantage.

“Without dispute, NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for striptease and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes and/or those who accompany them to campus,” the committee said in its report.

The report cited the unethical acts of a former Louisville operations director who arranged that acts. He wasn’t named in the report but was later identified as McGee, who left Louisville after the 2014 season to join the staff of UMKC, which had hired Cardinals assistant Kareem Richardson as coach the previous year.

McGee resigned from UMKC in October 2015, and hasn’t coached since then. A 10-year show-cause penalty would follow McGee if he returned to a coaching position in the NCAA.

Richardson was never implicated in the scandal.

The NCAA accepted Louisville’s self-imposed penalties including a postseason ban for 2015-16, loss of two scholarships for 2016-17. Additionally, Louisville must return income earned from NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The committee said Pitino “failed to monitor the former operations director when he created the residential environment in which the violations occurred and trusted the former operations director to follow the rules, and delegated monitoring of the former operations director to his assistant coaches without appropriate oversight.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff