Cardinal Sin: Louisville, Pitino got what they deserved, but the NCAA is inconsistent

In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, University of Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino, left, and Athletic Director Tom Jurich listen during a press conference, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville must vacate its 2013 men’s basketball title following an NCAA appeals panel’s decision to uphold sanctions against the men’s program for violations committed in a sex scandal. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

The NCAA decided on Tuesday to uphold punishments against the University of Louisville men’s basketball program, forcing the school to forfeit over 120 wins and, crucially, to vacate its 2013 NCAA championship.

It was the first time in history the NCAA forced a program to give up a Division I NCAA championship.

And guess what? Louisville deserved every bit of that punishment.

And that’s ONLY for the sex scandal. These NCAA punishments are not related to the recruiting violations Louisville committed in relation to a deal with apparel company Adidas.

What Louisville has done in terms of bending and breaking the rules over the last several years under former head coach Rick Pitino is nothing short of laughable. Sure, student-athletes deserve more benefits than what they get currently for the time they put in and the money they earn their institutions. Sure, you can argue “every school does this.”

But currently, the rules are the rules, and not every university breaks them, which is why people cannot feel sorry for Pitino or Louisville.

Pitino has always been known as a bigshot who saw himself as above everyone else. The type of guy who thought he was Don Vito Corleone. UConn Huskies’ great Ray Allen once described the difference between head coach Jim Calhoun and Pitino, the head coach of Kentucky at the time.

“I went (to visit Kentucky) and Pitino, he’s so high on a pedestal,” Allen said. “He does everything and talks about hisself. It’s I before his players or the team. He always talks about hisself and what he has. He had a restaurant and Jamal Mashburn was taking me around on my visit, and I went in there and I sat and Rick Pitino, he sat with his friends on the other side of the bar… If it was Coach Calhoun, he’d be sitting down at the table getting our food for us, because he really wanted us.”

It only makes sense that all these punishments have happened to a coach that is so full of himself and was willing to bend and break the rules by giving players other incentives for joining his program. I.e. sex with prostitutes. Of course, Pitino was officially fired in October, but it is refreshing to see that a championship has been taken away from his resume.

Still, there is one problem with this whole ordeal: consistency. That goes back to the NCAA.

Everyone knows the NCAA is more or less a joke that maintains student-athletes need to remain amateurs because their education is the most important thing. However, if the NCAA was going to bring down the hammer on Louisville, and rightly so, why did it let North Carolina get away scot free for allowing athletes to take literally fake classes to boost GPAs. And only because they also enrolled a few non-athletes in those classes.

It’s an incredible display of inconsistency from the NCAA, which also just forced the Notre Dame football program to vacate wins from 2012 and 2013 for self-reporting academic misconduct.

What’s crazier is that UNC fought its violations tooth-and-nail, even after they were proven to be true. And they still got off easy. Notre Dame turned themselves in and lost 21 wins over the span of two seasons.

One can only hope the NCAA will gain some semblance of what fair punishments are and will look to be more consistent in the future, but I’m not counting on the biggest joke of an organization to fix itself any time soon.

At the very least, what I do know is that Louisville and former head coach Rick Pitino got what they deserved.

Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at He tweets @realchrishanna.