NCAA punishment is ‘draconian,’ UofL claims in appeal

UofL | WLKY

The University of Louisville calls the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ punishments for the men’s basketball program “draconian” in its appeal submission released this week.

The university indicated this summer that it would limit its appeal to penalties vacating wins and forfeiting revenue and that Coach Rick Pitino would appeal a five-game suspension on his own. Pitino has said the NCAA sanctions were “over the top” and “excessive.”

In June, the NCAA imposed heavy penalties for a scandal involving UofL’s former director of basketball operations, Andre McGee, who hired strippers for players and recruits.

Among the list of penalties was four years of probation for the team, a five-game suspension for Pitino, a vacation of records from December 2010 to July 2014, in which ineligible students played and additional scholarship and recruiting restrictions.

Among the wins in question would be the Cardinals’ 2012 Final Four run and the 2013 national championship.

The university claimed that the COI ignored UofL’s efforts to right the wrongs. “In February 2016,” UofL said in its appeal, “upon definitively concluding that McGee’s conduct had occurred, the University self-imposed sweeping penalties.”

In its appeals submission, UofL said the NCAA punished the student-athletes for staff member Andre McGee’s actions, even though they received “no meaningful benefit or advantage from it.”

If the university had known about McGee’s actions, “it would have quickly obtained their reinstatement,” it said of the athletes on the team when the violations came to light.

On the COI’s order that UofL vacate wins from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 season, the university counters that none of the players from those teams were properly deemed ineligible. “Even if these student-athletes were technically ineligible, they would unquestionably have been reinstated.”

The university accused the COI of abusing its discretion by imposing the harshest available penalties.

UofL asks that the COI’s vacation and financial penalties should be reversed, and at the minimum, that penalties imposed in connection with the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 be reversed.

The COI has 30 days from when the appeal was filed, on Aug. 9, to respond.