The NCAA’s long, winding investigative process into Louisville’s basketball program ended Thursday with the revelation of a number of sanctions against the Cardinals. The organization has handed show-causes to a pair of former assistants, docked the program of its wins from 2010-14 (the Cardinals won the 2013 national championship), the returning of money won during previous NCAA tournaments, a small fine and a 5-game suspension from ACC competition for head coach Rick Pitino. (The school also previously self-imposed a 1-year post-season ban.)
What were the crimes, you ask?
Well, Louisville’s former director of basketball operations was essentially running an escort service as part of his hosting duties during official visits.
I think you could title this passage from the final infractions report on Louisville basketball: "Why the NCAA is so ticked off" pic.twitter.com/POrYsks1vM
— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) June 15, 2017
The NCAA found instances like the above occurred a total of 14 times over a 4-year span, 12 of them on campus. One recruit interviewed by the NCAA said an assistant coach blamed a poor practice on players having “strippers in there all night.”
Sitting Pitino for one eighth of one season for that seems like a fortunate outcome for the coach, and he treated it with the grace you’d expect.
Rick Pitino: “Personally, I've lost faith in the NCAA."
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 15, 2017
Pitino’s argument was that he didn’t know what his former operations director was doing with recruits when he wasn’t around, and perhaps, somehow, that’s true. If Pitino didn’t want to know, it’s because he purposefully set up barriers to prevent him from knowing what was happening in his players’ living quarters. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter whether Pitino knew or not.
The NCAA suspended him not because he did or didn’t know what his former staffer was doing, but because he should have known and put a stop to it.
From the NCAA’s official statement:
The head coach failed to monitor the former operations director when he created the residential environment in which the violations occurred and trusted the former operations director to follow the rules, and delegated monitoring of the former operations director to his assistant coaches without appropriate oversight. The head coach noted his assistant coaches were responsible for monitoring the former operations director. When asked during the investigation, the assistant coaches were unaware of this responsibility. The panel noted that a head coach does not meet his monitoring responsibility by simply trusting an individual to know NCAA rules and to do the right thing.
Let’s read that last part again:
The panel noted that a head coach does not meet his monitoring responsibility by simply trusting an individual to know NCAA rules and to do the right thing.
Ignorance is not a recruit when it comes to the NCAA, so expect this precedent to be applied to Hugh Freeze in the current case against Ole Miss and all future infractions cases.