The University of Louisville will lose its 2013 national championship banner. The NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee announced on Tuesday that it upheld the Committee on Infractions’ ruling that Louisville must vacate 123 wins, including the 2013 title and the 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.
The decision, released via the NCAA’s website, was the last step in an infractions process that lasted more than two years after Katina Powell’s bombshell book prompted an NCAA investigation in October 2015. Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2016 ACC and NCAA tournaments, and later added self-imposed recruiting sanctions after confirming Powell’s allegations that former Cards basketball staffer Andre McGee paid women thousands of dollars and gave them game tickets in exchange for them dancing for and having sex with players and recruits.
Efforts to bring the NBA to Louisville, long seen as a longshot, may finally be shortening the distance to the goal. It’s not yet a layup — far from it — but the percentages should be more promising after Wednesday’s announcement that Dan Issel has joined some of the city’s deepest pockets in pursuit of a professional basketball team.
The Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group — which includes Brown-Forman chairman George Garvin Brown IV and Matthew Barzun, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom — has announced the commitment of $750,000 in seed money to chase a dream that has remained out of reach since the Kentucky Colonels folded in 1976.
“Commissioner Silver said the NBA would be flattered that Louisville wanted a team,” Issel said. “He said right now there is no timetable for expansion. That will be their stance until they start accepting applications. … What we want is to be ready to go. If and when they accept applications, we want to be on the top of the pile.”
Around the time Pitino arrived, a group of Louisville businessmen and politicians were making a concerted effort to land an NBA team. In part, this was a play for economic development. Louisville could see how pro football and hockey helped revitalize Nashville. But it also came just as much from a desire for respect. The city burghers even had a nonbinding agreement with the Charlotte Hornets, which wanted to relocate. The plan centered around building a downtown arena that the Hornets and the Cardinals would share. Jurich and Pitino had other ideas. They had no intention of sharing an arena with an NBA team—they didn’t even want to share the city with an NBA team. Louisville was theirs. David Stern, who was then commissioner of the NBA, recalls thinking, “If Rick Pitino doesn’t want us there, why are we going there?” The Hornets went to New Orleans instead.
Peter Vecsey: Six decades later, to the surprise of nobody as little as droopily conscious, college chicanery involving the recruitment of prized HS players, and their families (including AAU coaches, I suspect), continues to run amok. It also continues to be coordinated by one or more bag men/assistants per shady school. They consider it a privilege to muck the head coach’s stall, and perform any other necessary dirty work to gain trust, a promotion or a letter of recommendation. The master plan is to insulate the head coach from prosecution, if not dismissal, should the school’s business be put out on the street.