Louisville Cardinals Basketball: No Winners, More Losers

Oct 3, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino watches his team
Oct 3, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino watches his team /

When the latest sex scandal hit the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball program, I wrote in this space that there would be no winners. On Friday afternoon, the university announced that the men’s basketball team would not participate in the ACC and the NCAA postseason tournaments. Essentially, as the investigation into Katina Powell’s claims continue, the administration of UofL, particularly school president James Ramsey, imposed a postseason ban this season.

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Most of the time, when schools impose such sanctions while the NCAA and other entities are investigating improprieties, it’s in an effort to lessen the punishment when the NCAA finally rules on the case. As The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy points out, it usually doesn’t matter. The NCAA will issue its ruling and apply whatever punishment it sees fit. This methodology is the only thing the NCAA seems to be consistent about.

The University of Louisville seniors and particularly fifth-year senior transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis will be denied the opportunity to participate in the post season. Their college careers will be cut short for no other reason than highly paid administrators and coaches are trying to cover their own backsides and mitigate some of the damage from future penalties. Lee and Lewis are, by far the biggest losers in this entire scenario.

The collateral damage, however, extends to every player on the UL roster that had nothing to do with what Powell alleges in her book, “Breaking the Cardinal Rules.” The current NCAA model often has the innocent paying for the crimes of the guilty. There are the coaches that have worked with the basketball program that will now have their work tarnished by this postseason ban, a tacit admission of at least some wrongdoing. And like all collegiate scandals, the fans, as usual are left wondering what, if anything, there’s left to believe in.

As a Kentucky fan, I take no glee in the fact that the Wildcats’ most bitter rival is in this situation. I’m not a fan of him personally, but Rick Pitino has done an outstanding job as the Cardinals’ head man. He’s kept them competitive as they’ve upgraded their conference, from Big East to ACC. He took them to the 2012 Final Four. And Pitino led them to the school’s first championship in nearly 30 years when the Cards won the 2013 NCAA title.


For all the grief the Big Blue Nation has received from Cardinal fans about John Calipari’s past and his vacated Final Fours, it’s now time to put that to rest. For all the talk of how Calipari and Kentucky play fast and loose with the NCAA rules, it’s now time to stop. If Calipari was somehow involved in Derrick Rose’s ACT test or Marcus Camby receiving money from an agent, then it’s definitely possible that Pitino knew what was going on in UL’s Minardi Hall, named for Pitino’s brother-in-law, a dorm built for Cardinal basketball players to make sure these kinds of things didn’t happen?

Again, there are no winners to this situation. There’s nothing but losers all around.