Not a banner day at UofL; NCAA upholds penalties

RAW INTERVIEW: Billy Reed says UofL saga won't end until Andre McGee comes forward
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 at 3:39 PM EST
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Greg Postel (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Greg Postel (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The University of Louisville's 2013 men's basketball national championship banner will come down, the school learned Tuesday.

>> VIDEO: David Padgett reacts to NCAA ruling

The NCAA upheld its ruling that the school must vacate its 123 wins from 2011-15, including the title the Cards won in 2013, giving UofL the dubious distinction of being the first school to have a national championship vacated.

The school also will have to pay the NCAA approximately $600,000 in fines.

"I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong," UofL Interim President Dr. Greg Postel said Tuesday.

The ruling punctuates the 2015 scandal involving self-proclaimed escort queen Katina Powell, whose tell-all memoir rocked the men's basketball program with details of sex parties attended by UofL basketball players and recruits. Powell claimed she worked in tandem with Andre McGee, a men's basketball staffer, to arrange the parties at Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm named after Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino's late best friend and brother-in-law. Powell claimed she pocketed at least $10,000 for her services.

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"In the Committee on Infractions' decision, the panel found that a former Louisville director of basketball operations acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation," the NCAA wrote in its ruling. "The violations in the case resulted in some men's basketball student-athletes competing while ineligible."

In February 2016, UofL self-imposed a postseason ban for the men's basketball team, but it wasn't nearly enough. The NCAA delivered its initial ruling in June 2017, recommending the vacation of the national championship and the 123 wins. UofL made its final appeal in December, but the NCAA wasn't moved.

"Like you, I believe the university needed to appeal the decision as strongly as possible," Postel said. "We brought in some of the best legal minds in the country, including the nation's top litigator, who helped develop and argue our case. This effort was costly both financially and in the time commitment. We felt, and still feel, that the young men who earned those victories and the thousands of fans who supported them deserved our best effort. The pain caused for our fans and the players who were not involved is perhaps the most regretful result of this decision." (Scroll down to read Postel's full statement)

Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra, who took over for Tom Jurich following the FBI's far-reaching 2017 investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball, emphasized Tuesday that while record books and banners might be affected, memories of victories and championships will not. When asked if UofL would consider further legal maneuvering, he said he would "personally probably not be in favor" of it.

That more recent FBI investigation has yet to yield sanctions for any of the schools allegedly involved, but it did lead to the firings of both Pitino and Jurich. Pitino's interim replacement, David Padgett, has guided UofL to an 18-9 record (8-6 ACC). ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi lists UofL as a No. 10 seed, but the Cards close the regular season with a difficult four-game stretch that could bounce them out of the NCAA Tournament picture entirely. It starts Wednesday night at Duke.

"It's an unfortunate situation, obviously," Padgett told WAVE 3 News' Kent Taylor about Tuesday's NCAA ruling. "The only good thing I think you can even say about the whole thing is the fact that now it's officially over."

Tyra, meanwhile, has drawn praise for providing a steady hand throughout the chaos, even cutting his own salary recently. Some observers are calling for him to be named the permanent athletic director.

Former UofL player Kevin Ware, a member of the 2013 title squad, made his feelings known on Twitter after the announcement:

Below are two clips from Tuesday's proceedings; the first is from Padgett's weekly media availability. The second is from the noon news conference, during which Postel and Tyra both spoke.

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