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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Louisville's Angst Edition

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The notice of allegations has hit the Louisville basketball team, and they are not pretty for Rick Pitino.

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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Quickies. I know that all of you are excited for the advent of the 2016-17 basketball season, and if you are a Kentucky fan and the Blue-White scrimmage didn’t get your juices flowing and raise the excitement level for this season’s possibilities, you may want to dial 911.

Today’s lead story, though, is the recent release of the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA to the Louisville Cardinals. As expected, the letter was mercilessly damning, alleging four level one violations, including one of a failure to monitor against Rick Pitino. In case it somehow escaped your notice for the last five days, the NOA can be found here.

It’s sordid stuff, and don’t let the relatively low value of benefits alleged fool you — this is among the most serious NOA’s I have seen, though arguably not as bad as the one at Southern Miss that drew a 10-year show-cause order for Donnie Tyndall. The NCAA has distilled the moral turpitude that has drawn most of the outrage down to essentially a financial transgression, which I find rather amusing. But the underlying cesspool of NCAA lawlessness is reflected in the seriousness of the charges alleged.

Three of the four major violation allegations are directed at people who are no longer at Louisville — two at Andre McGee and one at Brandon Williams, a former U of L basketball assistant.

It’s that fourth allegation that has Cardinal Nation worried — the one against Rick Pitino himself, and alleges that he violated NCAA head coach responsibility legislation, and is presumed responsible for failure to sufficiently supervise McGee.

Nicole Auerbach has a good article at USA Today discussing Pitino, and this, as Frank Zappa would say, is the crux of the biscuit:

But we can still feel icky about it. And it’s OK for us to pin a great deal of this on Pitino, even if he didn’t know exactly what happened when it did. Of course a coach can’t know everything going on, but this is different. Pitino should have known about this; it’s his program, and these sex-for-recruit arrangements took place over a period of years in an on-campus dormitory named for Pitino’s late brother-in-law.

Indeed. Combined with the tawdry Karen Sypher affair of the wee years of this century, Rick Pitino has amassed a sort of libertine aura about him (and by extension, Louisville basketball) that arguably can’t be matched anywhere outside of Hollywood. At some point, most colleges would probably be concerned about that appearance considering the comparatively innocent nature of their patrons.

I don’t think Louisville will be, though. They have already said they would defend Pitino, and Pitino claims it was a case of him trusting someone, not a failure to monitor. He must’ve been too busy at the time to take note of Ronald Regan’s famous admonition regarding nuclear arms treaties with the former Soviet Union to “Trust, but verify.” Alas for Pitino, I think making the argument for trust as a defense against due diligence is unlikely to impress the NCAA.

I have no idea what will happen, but I am confident of a significant suspension of Pitino, at minimum. There are no dates or players unredacted in the timeline, so the matter of Louisville’s 2013 NCAA championship is still very much a concern. It is also possible the NCAA will find this too significant for a suspension, and slap a show-cause order on Pitino and Louisville, which would probably force the Cardinals to part ways with their Hall of Fame coach. I consider both long shots, but not out of the question.

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