Calling the NCAA a "corrupt organization," a lawyer suing the governing body on behalf of former University of Louisville basketball players said his clients were portrayed in a false light and they and the program deserve to have their reputations restored.
"We're here today to clear names. We're here today to get back awards," attorney John Morgan said during an hourlong news conference announcing the suit Wednesday at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville. "We're here to get (Rick) Pitino's championship back. But more than that, we're here to get these players' good names back."
The players, Luke Hancock, Gorgui Dieng, Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson and Michael Marra, are represented by the law firm of Morgan & Morgan. John Morgan the firm's founder, is a Kentucky native. His firm is based in Orlando, Fla., but has offices in several states, including Kentucky.
The suit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, accuses the NCAA of painting the plaintiffs in a false light, negligence and other transgressions connected to its sanctions against Louisville as a result of the escort scandal involving a former assistant coach and a few unnamed players and recruits.
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Each of the plaintiffs argue they did not participate in the alleged NCAA violations that led to sanctions including the vacating of 123 Louisville wins and the 2013 national title. By not specifically naming who was involved in the alleged NCAA infractions, the plaintiffs argue they were unfairly tarnished.
Hancock earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2013 Final Four and was the team captain.
"I didn't do anything wrong," Hancock said Wednesday. "I do the right things."
The suit seeks compensatory damages and a declaration that the plaintiffs are "completely innocent of any wrongdoing as implied by the NCAA."
Ahead of the press conference Tuesday night, Morgan made a number of posts on Twitter explaining why he took the case.
"To my fellow Kentucky fans: I grew up in Lexington and bleed #BBN. I’m coming home tomorrow to file suit in Louisville against the @NCAA for stripping them of their 2013 championship and Luke’s MVP. There was no due process," Morgan tweeted. "The @NCAA is a corrupt organization who preys on poor young teenagers, makes billions, and gives them not even enough for a soft drink. The student-athlete is a bogus name to screw these kids."
"The @NCAA is the enemy of all college sports and especially the kids who fill the stadiums and arenas. And get jack! Tomorrow we all unite in the Bluegrass State!! I'm going to get a hot brown at the Brown Hotel right after! #ForThePeople."
The news of the potential lawsuit broke Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's planned press conference. Hancock offered few details on his afternoon call-in show on Louisville's WLCL 93.9-FM other than to say players from each year affected would be part of the suit, and the parties believe they have standing to file as people directly impacted by the NCAA ruling.
"We definitely feel that we have standing," Hancock said. "And we're excited with the team we've put together to try and do something."
A group of Louisville fans filed a similar suit in April, but the NCAA has moved for that case to be dismissed because the fans lack standing to represent Louisville in the action.
"We feel like there's a wrong that needs to be righted — and that's why we're doing it," Hancock said.