LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey announced Friday that after an internal investigation into allegations of prostitution involving the men's basketball program, the Cards won't play in any postseason games following this regular season.
The allegations surfaced on Oct. 2, exactly 18 weeks ago. Friday's announcement at an afternoon news conference on the UofL campus means the Cards will play only their nine remaining regular-season games and will miss the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
"It's a very sad day for all of us," athletic director Tom Jurich said. "But we want to do what's right."
Added coach Rick Pitino: "This is a decision as harsh as anything I've seen. But we will play the last nine games of the season as if they're the last nine games we'll ever play."
Speaking in front of a plain black backdrop devoid of any university or athletic logos, Ramsey, Jurich, Pitino and investigator Chuck Smrt took questions from reporters following 10 minutes of opening statements.
Pitino spoke several times about the disappointment he and some of the Cards' younger players feel for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, a pair of fifth-year seniors who transferred to UofL to play their final seasons in hopes of making an NCAA Tournament.
"This team is a special group," Pitino said, adding that when he delivered the news to his players before the news conference, the younger players rallied around those two seniors. "Damion and Trey wanted to come here to play in the (NCAA) Tournament."
Pitino also said he reached out last summer to longtime basketball coach and former Pitino assistant Ralph Willard about returning to the bench, hoping to coax him into one final season of glory.
"I didn't think there was any possibility this season would (end in) a postseason ban," Pitino said.
Self-proclaimed escort queen Katina Powell claimed in a bombshell book in October that she arranged escorts for parties attended by UofL players over several years. The parties took place at Minardi Hall, named after Pitino's late brother-in-law, and Powell said she worked with former UofL player and graduate assistant Andre McGee to arrange the escorts.
At the time of the allegations, McGee was an assistant basketball coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but he was suspended a short time later and eventually resigned from his job. He has never addressed the allegations publicly.
The self-ban does not mean the saga is over. The NCAA also has been investigating and could issue further sanctions.
UofL's final home game is March 1 against Georgia Tech. That Tuesday night game starts at 8 p.m. and can be seen on WAVE 3 News. The Cards then close out their season four days later at Virginia.