The University of Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball program and Rick Pitino haven’t had the best week. As a two seed in the NCAA tournament, they were knocked off by the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday.
Time to lick wounds has barely passed and now the NCAA has released a response to the UofL assertions that not only did Rick Pitino not know that former head of basketball operations Andre McGee was running a prostitution ring for players and recruits, but also that his monitoring of the program was exemplary.
I guess statements by Pitino that he knows when a chair breaks in Minardi Hall, the dorm where the prostitution and stripper parties took place, didn’t jive with the fact that cameras would mysteriously stop working and security guards were complicit in the activities.
In response, the NCAA has rejected the excuses of Rick Pitino and UofL. From Eric Crawford and Marcus Green:
...the NCAA’s investigative division determined that “Pitino did not supplement his trust in McGee with frequent spot-checks, including actively looking for and evaluating red flags, asking pointed questions and regularly soliciting honest feedback to determine if monitoring systems existed or were functioning properly.”
"If Pitino saw no red flags in connection with McGee's interactions with then prospective and current student athletes, it was because he was not looking for them," according to the report.
The NCAA response sets the stage for a hearing in front of the governing body’s committee on infractions that is likely to take place this summer. The enforcement staff, which authored the report released Thursday, essentially acts as investigator and prosecutor.
Still unknown are the ultimate sanctions that will be levied against the university, which imposed a ban on postseason play in 2016 and reduced the overall number of scholarship
There is a 118 page document in which the NCAA lays out their case for rejecting UofL and Pitino, but I’m not going to go through it line by line. Luckily there are actual reporters out there that are paid to do it and are fantastic at it. Oh, and they have twitter accounts, and none better or more succinct that Jason Riley of WDRB.com.
REPORT: A UofL basketball player told NCAA it was "common knowledge" among his teammates that adult entertainment was going on at Minardi pic.twitter.com/JW4Wil8hKR— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
That same player said whenever there was a "highly sought after prospect" "adult entertainers were in the dormitoryhttps://t.co/awKBYQBKhZ— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
NCAA ripped Pitino for not asking pointed questions, looking for red flags or "even occasionally" soliciting honest feedback pic.twitter.com/96oPLaLsIu— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
NCAA: These are basic elements of head coach's obligation to monitor.If Pitino saw no red flags,"it was because he was not looking for them"— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
Former program assistant Brandon Williams is believed to have given Katina Powell $200 outside Minardi Hall. He denies this.— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
There is a lot of quibbling on how much was paid for sex acts. NCAA said it doesn't matter pic.twitter.com/U9QAounHLI— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
REPORT: Mike Balado, former assistant coach, was only one on staff who remembered asking Pitino if there were any issues with the "dorms"— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) March 23, 2017
- NCAA seems to believe that if Pitino did not know, he actively tried not to know or just didn’t try very hard to know what was going on
- At least one other UofL staff member knew as well as multiple players and recruits, therefore McGee wasn’t a lone wolf as Pitino has stated in the past
- The NCAA knew that money exchanged hands for services for players and recruits and sometimes exact amounts are highlighted
- UofL tried to say that since the amounts of money weren’t that much, the crime isn’t as bad while the NCAA is saying the amount doesn’t matter it’s the actions that count
- The NCAA has former player statements along with the statements from former recruits
Here’s the thing, folks: there are specific laws that the NCAA has that directly addresses extra benefits for players and recruits. This is directly from the NCAA bylaws:
Extra Benefits Definition: Extra Benefit (Bylaw 16.02.3) – An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletic interests (including fans) to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by the NCAA legislation. Extra benefit regulations pertain to prospects as well.
According to Bylaw 16.01.1, receipt by a student-athlete of an award, benefit, or expense allowance not authorized by NCAA legislation renders the student-athlete ineligible to compete while representing the institution in the sport for which the improper award, benefit, or expense was received. If the student-athlete receives an extra benefit not authorized by NCAA legislation or an improper award or expense allowance in conjunction with competition that involves the use of overall athletic skill (e.g., “superstar” competition), the individual is ineligible for all sports Exception for Benefits Available to Other Students (Bylaw 16.01.3)
You can read the full bylaws in regards to extra benefits here.
If the NCAA adheres to the rules written, then UofL is in serious trouble. It’s not a matter if the hammer is going to fall, it’s how heavy it’s going to be.