After waiting more than five years, the Louisville men’s basketball program finally had its fate from the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process. The school was alleged to have benefited from a $100,000 offer to prep standout Brian Bowen. He was to play basketball for Louisville and to sign with Adidas after turning pro. U of L has dodged major sanctions. The Cardinals received a $5,000 fine, a reduction in recruiting days, and two years of probation. The program was not hit with any postseason ban, and former head coaches Rick Pitino and Chris Mack avoided punishment.
Former assistant coaches Kenny Johnson (now at Rhode Island) and Jordan Fair were both assessed two-year show-cause penalties. The IARP determined that U of L was guilty of a single Level-I violation. The Level-II violations the NCAA levied against the school were determined to be Level-III. Louisville fans took to social media clamoring for the 2013 national championship banner to be back at the KFC Yum Center. Athletic director Josh Heird said that there are more pressing matters but has not ruled it out.
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“For me, it checks this situation (the infractions case) off the to-do list, which allows us to focus on potentially other things on the to-do list,” Heird said. “While I’m not going to sit up here and make any promises, I can tell our fan base, unequivocally, that if there’s an opportunity for us to do something along those lines, we’re going to try to do it.”
The vacation of the 2013 national championship is not tied to the scandal with the FBI. Andre McGee and Katina Powell sex scandal lead to the vacation of 123 wins and the 2013 title back in June of 2017. Heird will have to address that with the NCAA first. He is aware of how important doing so would be for the Louisville community. Louisville remains, for the time being, decimated. Louisville has been to one NCAA tournament and won zero NCAA tournament games since 2017. Doubt the Cardinals will break either one of these trends this season.
Additionally, U of L instantly fired the most successful athletic director in the school’s history. They also fired one of the best college basketball coaches of all time in Rick Pitino. Louisville basketball has not felt like Louisville basketball at any point since. Louisville was a top 10 all-time program between 2003 and 2015. UofL missed the NCAA tournament once, was a top-four seed nine times, went to six Elite Eights, three Final Fours, and won one national championship.
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Once U of L is done serving out the punishments, it will be a decade since we learned who Katina Powell was. That decade will not remotely resemble the one that preceded it. Payne is brought back the Louisville energy by reneging with former players to bring the program back to its roots. Where he goes from here with no cloud over the program is the big question. Can he win at Louisville? Absolutely. Has too much damage been done from waiting five years to find out these penalties?
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