Louisville has received its notice of allegations from the NCAA, which has hit the Cardinals’ men’s basketball program with a Level I allegation — the most serious under NCAA bylaws.
The alleged NCAA violations stem from the federal investigation into college basketball, which revealed an arrangement between Louisville and Adidas to pay players to sign to play for UL during the coaching tenure of Rick Pitino. The alleged violations occurred during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
The Level I allegation is for an improper recruiting offer, recruiting inducement and extra benefits provided to the family of an enrolled student-athlete — revealed in court to be Brian Bowen, a five-star class of 2017 recruit who currently plays for the Indiana Pacers. Per the NCAA, the improper benefits were provided by two Adidas employees as well as two former Louisville assistant coaches.
The school was also hit with two Level II allegations for the two assistant coaches engaging in recruiting violations (impermissible transportation and impermissible contact) and for, as a university, failing to “adequately monitor the recruitment of an incoming, high-profile student athlete.”
Pitino, who coached Louisville from 2001 to 2017, was hit with a Level II allegation for failing to satisfy head coach responsibility and “promote an atmosphere of compliance.” Pitino, 67, was fired by Louisville in October 2017 and spent multiple seasons coaching professional basketball in Greece before landing the head-coaching job at Iona in March.
Now that Louisville has received the notice of allegations, the school has 90 days to respond to the NCAA. In a joint letter addressed to the “university community,” Louisville president Dr. Neeli Bendapudi and athletic director Vince Tyra said the university will take responsibility for the allegations that are “proven to be factual.” In the letter, Bendapudi and Tyra said the school will not be afraid to “push back where the evidence does not support the NCAA’s interpretations or allegations of charges.”
“It is important to remember that these are allegations — not facts — and the University will diligently prepare a full and comprehensive response and, absent an unforeseen development, submit it within the prescribed ninety-day period,” the letter says. “For those allegations that are proven to be factual, the University will take responsibility, as accountability is one of our core Cardinal Principles. However, we will not hesitate to push back where the evidence does not support the NCAA's interpretations or allegations of charges.
“U of L has a right and a responsibility to stand up for itself when faced with unfair or unfounded charges and will always act in the best interests of the institution. Our legal team has begun the process of reviewing the Notice and will prepare a thorough response on behalf of the University.”
Pitino disagrees with NCAA
Pitino released a statement on Monday, disagreeing with the latest allegations against him.
Iona issued a statement, too, saying it was aware of the report and stands by Pitino.
“Today the NCAA released an NOA and alleges a Level II violation against me,” Pitino said, via Forbes’ Adam Zagoria. “I firmly disagree with this allegation and will follow the protocols in addressing this allegations through the administrative process. Due to NCAA bylaws on public disclosure on enforcement issues, I will have no further comment on this matter until it is resolved.”
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