The University of Louisville says in an appeal that the NCAA's Committee on Infractions imposed "grossly excessive" penalties in ordering the vacation of its 2013 men's basketball championship and tournament revenue over a sex scandal.
The Indianapolis-based NCAA in June placed Louisville on four years' probation and ordered that it vacate up to 123 victories, including the 2013 title and 2012 Final Four appearance. Its decision followed an investigation into an escort's book, in which she said former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers for sex parties with players and recruits from 2010-14.
Escort Katina Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," was published by IBJ Book Publishing LLC, a sister company of Indianapolis Business Journal. Investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Dick Cady co-authored the book.
Louisville's Oct. 31 response to the Infractions Appeal Committee said the penalties were "unfair" for seeking to wipe away players' careers and vacating victories "because of the participation of a handful of student-athletes who did little wrong."
Louisville's appeal comes after the school's acknowledgement in September that it's been investigated in a federal corruption probe of the sport involving bribery of players.
Louisville's agreed in its sex scandal appeal with the committee's view that McGee's scheme and the activities—previously described as "repugnant" by the NCAA—contradicted what college athletics stand for.
But the school argued that the infractions committee erred and didn't follow precedence it had established. Louisville stated that the committee had never imposed penalties for situations in which student-athletes weren't culpable for misconduct, didn't receive something of meaningful value and could have easily been reinstated.
The school cited NCAA cases against several other schools where strippers were involved, and noted the infractions committee didn't penalize those schools. Louisville also contended the committee ignored the school's cooperation and self-imposed penalties such as the 2016 postseason ban and recruiting restrictions—which the appeals committee has said must be "a significant factor" in determining penalties.
Louisville's appeal is the latest step in a process that could extend into early next year. Since the penalties were announced, another crisis has unfolded at the school and changed leadership of the basketball team and athletic program.
Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, whom the NCAA suspended five games for failing to monitor McGee, was fired Oct. 16 by Louisville's Athletic Association in the wake of the federal probe. He has been replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach and former player David Padgett, whose No. 19 Cardinals host Southern Illinois on Tuesday night.
Louisville trustees fired longtime athletic director Tom Jurich on Oct. 18. Vince Tyra is acting AD.