LOUISVILLE – Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, head coach of Louisville, will be suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games in the 2017-18 season for failing to monitor his men’s basketball program in the wake of a sex scandal, the Division I Committee on Infractions announced Thursday.
The Cardinals also will be on probation for four years, have scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions. Louisville will also forfeit any money received through conference revenue sharing from the 2012-15 NCAA Tournaments.
The status of the school’s 2012-13 national championship could be at risk, as the NCAA ruled the Cardinals must vacate all basketball records in which players competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014.
The NCAA, which accepted Louisville’s self-imposed 2015-16 postseason ban, ruled that Pitino “violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules” by failing to monitor the activities of former assistant Andre McGee, who is alleged to have hired strippers to entertain players and recruits.
“Without dispute, NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for stripteases and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes and/or those who accompany them to campus,” the panel said in its decision.
Louisville interim president Greg Postel said in a statement that he does not believe the penalties levied by the NCAA are “fair and reasonable.”
“(The NCAA) “went beyond what we consider to be fair and reasonable,” Postel said in his statement, adding that “The Committee on Infractions has gone too far and taken actions that are unwarranted. We will appeal.”
McGee received a 10-year show cause penalty.
The Committee on Infractions on Thursday ruled McGee “acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation.”
Pitino’s attorney, Scott Tompsett, told ESPN that the coach also plans to appeal the penalty.
“The finding against Coach Pitino is one of the weakest I’ve ever seen against a head coach,” Tompsett’s statement said. “… The decision does not identify a single specific thing that Coach Pitino should have done, that he wasn’t already doing, that would have either prevented or detected the illicit activities. The secret and deliberately hidden illicit activities certainly did not occur because Coach Pitino did not properly train Mr. McGee.
“Today’s decision breaks with established head coach control precedent and imposes a standard of strict liability.”
Pitino came under intense criticism after Katina Powell, an escort, wrote a book “Breaking Cardinal Rules” which detailed the payment for performances in the form of cash and game tickets. Powell identified McGee as the one who paid for sex with recruits and players in the players’ dormitory, Minardi Hall, which was constructed in honor of Pitino’s brother-in-law.