The NCAA upheld its decision to strip the University of Louisville of their 2013 national title on Tuesday, after the school appealed the original decision.
The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program is being punished because players and recruits received stripteases, lap dances and sex acts paid for by former director of basketball operations Andre McGee.
The NCAA said in a statement the Committee on Infractions decided the original punishment was fair, because the violations were serious and intentional and they continued for almost four years.
“(T)he panel found that a former Louisville director of basketball operations acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation,” the NCAA said. “The violations in the case resulted in some men’s basketball student-athletes competing while ineligible.”
In a statement, University of Louisville Interim President Greg Postel said he believed the NCAA’s decision was wrong and did not reflect the effort the school put in to cooperate and change policies following the original decision.
“We felt, and still feel, that the young men who earned those victories and the thousands of fans who supported them deserved our best effort,” the statement said. “The pain caused for our fans and the players who were not involved is perhaps the most regretful result of this decision.”
In December 2016, the NCAA issued a similar set of allegations against UNC. The allegations said by taking the paper courses that elicited the original NCAA allegations, men’s basketball players were given extra benefits that were not available to other students. In the Louisville case, the allegations also involve extra benefits to players, but the benefits are of a completely different nature.
The extra benefits allegations against UNC were later thrown out when it was revealed anyone at UNC could have taken the paper courses, and therefore the benefits were not solely available to athletes. The allegations against Louisville, however, were upheld.
Barbara Osborne, a UNC professor of exercise and sports science, said the punishment of vacating a national title is a fairly standard punishment from the NCAA.
“If you have ineligible athletes playing, then all the games they played in really have to be forfeited because they shouldn’t have played in them,” she said. “That affects the coach’s record, that affects the school’s record and, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it affects the NCAA payout.”
In addition to vacating its title, Louisville was also required to pay a fine.
“The appeals committee also upheld the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions penalty that requires the university to return to the NCAA money received through conference revenue sharing for its appearances in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships,” the NCAA statement said.
Louisville’s statement said they plan to move forward in an open and transparent way.
“The NCAA's ruling cannot change the accomplishments or the excitement generated by our Cardinals basketball team,” the statement said. “It cannot change the feeling many of us shared as we experienced the victories those teams earned. And it cannot change the love so many of us have for this great university.”
There will be some effects on the school’s records and its coach’s records because of the decision, Osborne said. She said these effects may not be important in the grand scheme of things.
“Just the scandal itself should have triggered many of those things,” she said. “Not the punishment the NCAA is giving them.”
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