A group of former University of Louisville men's basketball players have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over the organization's vacation of the Cardinals' 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four.
John Morgan, one of several attorneys representing former Cardinals captain Luke Hancock, the 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and four teammates from that title team, said a lawsuit had been filed and described the NCAA as "a morally bankrupt organization" that exploits student-athletes during a Wednesday news conference.
The Indianapolis-based NCAA stripped Louisville of the title as part of sanctions for violations discovered during an escort scandal investigation.
The governing body in February denied the school's appeal and vacated 123 victories, including their third NCAA title, following an escort's allegations in October 2015 that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers for sex parties. Louisville removed the championship banner from its home arena soon afterward.
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.
"We are used to fighting giants," Morgan said. "In the sports world, I don't think any giant exists like the NCAA. The NCAA is a giant, but the NCAA is a morally bankrupt organization that has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged kids throughout the country.
"They answer to nobody but are bad for everybody."
Morgan also mentioned former Louisville players Gorgui Dieng, Tim Henderson, Stephan Van Treese and Mike Marra as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The liability attorney did not mention former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who has denied knowledge of the activities alleged by Powell.
Several investigations soon followed after Powell's allegations, including ones by the school and the NCAA. Louisville's own investigation found that violations did occur and imposed penalties including sitting out the 2016 postseason in an effort to mitigate NCAA penalties.
The organization in June 2017 ordered Louisville to vacate victories that included the championship and Final Four appearance for activities it described as "repugnant" in its decision. Pitino was suspended for five games for failing to monitor McGee and vowed to fight the penalties. The school and the coach vowed then to fight the penalties.
As the appeals process unfolded, the Hall of Fame coach was suspended and eventually fired after 16 seasons last fall following Louisville's acknowledgment of its involvement in a federal corruption of college basketball.
Pitino is not named in the federal complaint and has denied knowledge of any payments made to the family of former Louisville recruit Brian Bowen. The coach is suing the school along with sportswear maker Adidas, which dropped him after his firing.