Rick Pitino suspended as part of NCAA sanctions on Louisville basketball

Cardinals head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino has been suspended for the first five conference games of next season, but there were more penalties for Louisville handed down by the NCAA on Thursday as well.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions released its ruling on the violations that it alleges occurred at Louisville involving prostitution arranged for by a former men’s basketball staffer. Included among them are the loss of scholarships, recruiting restrictions, probation, a fine and suspension for Rick Pitino.

A 35-page document lays out the committee’s findings and applications of the NCAA’s by-laws which govern the responsibilities of head coaches and other athletic department staff concerning what happens on campus during prospect visits and involving current athletes.

The allegations include a lack of oversight by Pitino (pages 18-19), a failure to comply with the investigation of the situation by former men’s basketball program assistant Andre McGee (pages 16-18), and the purported arrangement for strippers and prostitutes for both enrolled athletes and prospects at a team residential facility (pages 13-15).

The penalties, which begin to be listed on page 21 and run through the 27th page, include the following:

  • A probationary period beginning on Thursday and ending June 14, 2021. While on probation, Louisville must “inform in writing prospective student-athletes in men’s basketball that the institution is on probation for four years and detail the violations committed” along with a requirement to “publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the infractions…located on the athletic department’s main or “landing” webpage.” Additionally, the school must “implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation.”
  • A fine of $5,000 that was self-imposed was upheld. In addition to that, Louisville must write a check to the NCAA for all the revenue it has received or will yet receive from the ACC for men’s basketball during March Madness in 2012-2015.
  • The loss of four scholarships over the period of the probation in addition to the self-imposed scholarship reductions. Louisville can determine when it will forfeit the additional scholarships.
  • Self-imposed recruiting restrictions were upheld. The committee added that no prospects can stay on campus overnight during unofficial visits for the duration of the probation.
  • A 10-year show-cause order for McGee.
  • The possible vacating of wins from December of 2010 through July of 2014. Louisville must determine how many of those games during that time were participated in by athletes who would have been ineligible and report that number to the NCAA within 45 days. The NCAA will have the final say on which and how many wins get vacated, which could include the Cardinals’ 2012-13 national championship.
  • The suspension of Pitino for the first five ACC games next season. During the suspension period, Pitino can not have any contact with the team or be present at team facilities.

As expected, both Louisville and Pitino plan to appeal the sanctions. According to Myron Medcalf of ESPN, a statement by university interim president Greg Postel says that, “the Committee on Infractions has gone too far.” Pitino’s attorney Scott Tompsett called the NCAA’s case against Pitino, “…one of the weakest I’ve ever seen against a head coach.”

What happens upon appeal is yet to be determined, but if all the penalties stand in most of their entirety, these alleged infractions by Pitino and a former member of his staff could end up costing the school millions of dollars in revenue and the distinction of a national title.