NCAA RULING: Pitino suspended, UofL gets probation; 2013 title in limbo

NCAA RULING: Pitino suspended, UofL gets probation; 2013 title in limbo
Andre McGee (Source: WAVE 3 News file)
Andre McGee (Source: WAVE 3 News file)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The NCAA on Thursday suspended Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino for five ACC games next season in the high-profile scandal involving sex-for-pay for prospects, student-athletes and others.

The program also will suffer a four-year probation, and the Cardinals may be stripped of their 2012-2013 national championship.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions demanded a "vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014." The school has 45 days to release a list of the games that must be forfeited.

Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones tweeted that former escort Katina Powell told him that Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell, who were on that championship team, were involved in the sex-for-play scandal as recruits and players.

Powell broke open the scandal in her explosive 2015 tell-all memoir that said she and other prostitutes had been hired by former basketball operations director Andre McGee to strip and have sex with UofL players and recruits.

"Without dispute, the NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for stripteases and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes, or those who accompany them to campus," the NCAA panel wrote.

>> ALSO: UofL interim president says NCAA 'has gone too far'

Powell's attorney, Larry Wilder, told WAVE 3 News on Thursday afternoon that his client could still face some trouble of her own.

"Obviously, Ms. Powell wasn't someone who was going to advertise what she was doing until she wrote the book," he said. "And you saw how that turned out for her. It turned to the place where she was facing and continues to potentially face criminal charges."

For unethical behavior, McGee was slammed with a 10-year, show-cause penalty – which means the punishment for his rules violations will stay in effect for a decade and could be transferred to any NCAA school that hires him.

Pitino was liable because he had hired McGee to live in the men's dorm -- named after Pitino's late brother-in-law Billy Minardi -- and to be on the lookout for potential NCAA rules violations.

He should have known what was going on in the dorm, the panel said.

"By his own admission," the NCAA news release stated, "the head coach and his assistants did not interact with prospects from 10 p.m. until the next morning. The panel noted that the head coach essentially placed a peer of the student-athletes in a position of authority over them and visiting prospects, and assumed that all would behave appropriately in an environment that was, for all practical purposes, a basketball dorm."

UofL officials spoke to reporters at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, including former NCAA investigator Chuck Smrt, whom UofL hired to lead its internal investigation in 2015.

"The severity of the penalty, we think, exceeds the (infraction) in this case," Smrt said.

Added Pitino: "For 35 some-odd years I've had a lot of faith in the NCAA. Personally, I've lost a lot of faith in the NCAA .. with what they just did ... We did not deserve any of this at all."

UofL Interim President Greg Postel issued a statement shortly after the NCAA's findings.

"This has been a very difficult period for UofL," he wrote. "I am confident that what happened here will never happen again. We have changed our recruitment procedures, imposed additional protections in the dorms and the staff has received additional training. It saddens me that these events took place. Nevertheless, the Committee on Infractions has gone too far and taken actions that are unwarranted. We will appeal."

What exactly did the Committee on Infractions find?

Below are some excerpts from the COI's 35-page decision:

+ The COI has not previously encountered a case like this.

+ The COI has previously dealt with cases involving impermissible benefits rendered through providing access to strippers and striptease shows, although not to this magnitude.

+ The first way the head coach's monitoring was deficient was in creating the living arrangements in which the violations occurred and then trusting the former operations director without verifying his actions.

+ As a panel of this committee stated in (a recent case against) Syracuse University, a head coach does not meet his monitoring responsibility by simply trusting an individual to know NCAA rules and do the right thing.

+ If any of the student-athletes competed in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championships at any time they were ineligible, the institution's participation in the championships shall be vacated.

+ Head coaches with vacated wins on their records may not count the vacated wins to attain specific honors or victory "milestones" such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories.

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