University of Louisville

Report: NCAA tells Louisville it’s begun a new inquiry. What happens next?

Here’s how the NCAA basketball bribery schemes worked

After two years undercover, the FBI found members of top NCAA basketball programs involved in corrupt bribery schemes. Here's how those schemes worked.
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After two years undercover, the FBI found members of top NCAA basketball programs involved in corrupt bribery schemes. Here's how those schemes worked.

Six months after a former Adidas executive and others were found guilty in a pay-for-play scheme that included a Louisville basketball recruit, the Cardinals program acknowledged Wednesday it has received a “verbal notice of inquiry” from the NCAA that it will begin conducting its own investigation.

“We received verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA on March 8,” school spokesman John Karman told The Athletic’s Jeff Greer. Greer was the first to report on the investigation that is said to also include Arizona and Kansas. “There are no other details I can provide at this time.”

In the wake of a federal indictment filed in September 2017, Louisville fired men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, athletics director Tom Jurich and two of Pitino’s assistants within a month of the announcement. Pitino and his assistants, Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson were referenced, but never named in the indictment and none have been charged.

Former Adidas executive James Gatto and two others were convicted of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud last October. Among the allegations were that Gatto conspired to pay the father of recruit Brian Bowen $100,000 to influence him to sign with Louisville. The 2017 indictment included transcriptions of a recording where unnamed Louisville assistants discussed arranging such a payment.

Such an allegation would be a Level I violation under NCAA rules. While Louisville’s quick action to dismiss members of its basketball staff and remove Bowen from team activities could be taken into account by the NCAA, the program also faces the problem of already being under NCAA probation for infractions in the stripper scandal that resulted in the program being forced to vacate its 2013 national title.

Bowen never played for Louisville, opting to transfer to South Carolina before ultimately deciding to turn pro. He has filed a lawsuit against Adidas.

The NCAA investigation into the latest Louisville allegations could take months. After a notice of inquiry, the university can request a meeting with the NCAA to discuss the investigation.

According to NCAA bylaw 19.7.3: “The institution shall be informed of its obligation to cooperate and of the confidential nature of the inquiry. The institution shall be notified that if the inquiry develops reliable information of a possible Level I or II violation, a notice of allegations will be produced.”

The scandal involving paid escorts in a Louisville dorm broke in late August of 2015 with investigations by both the university and the NCAA beginning soon after. The first public notice of allegations from the NCAA came in October of 2016 when Louisville revealed the NCAA had found four Level I violations. In June 2017, the NCAA issued its final ruling, forcing the program to vacate wins between 2010 and 2014, including the 2013 NCAA Tournament championship and the 2012 Final Four appearance.

Louisville was in the process of appealing that ruling when the new allegations related to the federal indictment were announced.