Column: Louisville punishment shows lack of integrity

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, right, argues with referee Brian Dorsey during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 in Louisville Ky. Louisville won 71-64. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

In a wide open season, who will be the 2016-2016 NCAA National Champion?

Not Louisville.

According to KenPom.com, Louisville is third in adjusted defense, 38th in adjusted offense and seventh overall. They have marquee wins versus Duke and North Carolina and a couple future NBA draft picks. Louisville is a true Final Four contender with a wide array of talent. But get a good look, because after games this week against Georgia Tech and Virginia, the 2015-2016 Louisville Cardinals will be done.

And it’s wrong.

It’s all wrong.

The Cardinals will not play in any type of postseason after a self-imposed ban by the university amid an investigation and allegations into past misconducts. Katina Powell, an escort accused the program and former graduate assistant Andre McGee of soliciting prostitution services multiple times from 2010-2014 in order to entice prospective recruits visiting campus.

Head coach Rick Pitino has strongly denied the accusations and McGee left the program after 2014 to coach elsewhere. That didn’t stop Louisville, working off the results of an internal investigation, to cut their promising season short, in all likelihood hoping to lessen the blow of potential future punishments from the NCAA.

It’s wrong. A postseason ban is punishing the wrong people. It’s punishing graduate transfers Damion Lee from Drexel and Trey Lewis from Cleveland State. It’s punishing all the members of the team who came to Louisville to compete for a National Championship. It’s punishing the students and the fan base who want to root and watch their team compete for a National Championship. Yet it’s leaving Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich largely unscathed.

Who hired Andre McGee? Rick Pitino with permission from the Louisville Athletic Department. While Andre McGee coached at Louisville, who was his direct superior? Rick Pitino. Whose job is to make sure the men’s basketball program follows NCAA rules? Rick Pitino along with Louisville’s compliance department. But they’re not the ones taking the brunt of the punishment.

Sure, the university will lose out on potential revenues from an NCAA tournament run. It’s also likely Pitino and Jurich have incentives in their contracts for NCAA Tournament performance. It’s not enough. The fact the Pitino and Jurich can work every day and make the money they make, is wrong. They should be the ones getting punished. The university took the easy way out.

I don’t have a perfect alternative, some options would be a suspension and/or fines of Pitino and Jurich. The school could have and should have imposed substantial fines. Precedents set in past situations show that ignorance isn’t an acceptable excuse. And it was the coaching staff and administration’s ignorance that allowed this violation to take place. They should’ve stopped and held themselves accountable. Instead they showed they lack integrity and threw the punishment on those who deserve it the least, the players and the fans.


Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.