The University of Louisville men’s basketball team will not play in this year’s postseason tournaments after president James Ramsey announced a school-imposed ban resulting from the NCAA’s investigation of a campus sex scandal.
Louisville, 18-4 and ranked No. 19 in the nation, will sit out the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments. The ban means graduate transfer seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, who joined the Cardinals in hopes of making a deep postseason run, will be denied that chance.
Coach Rick Pitino, Athletics Director Tom Jurich and Ramsey addressed the media during an afternoon news conference.
Ramsey said he had received an update on the NCAA investigation into the basketball program and that it was reasonable to conclude that violations had occurred.
“I recognize that this is a significant penalty for our program, and this will be a disappointment to our student athletes and many in the Louisville athletics family,” Ramsey said.
He also said U of L is continuing to cooperate with the NCAA in its investigation.
The NCAA is investigating claims in a book by self-proclaimed madame Katina Powell that she brought escorts to campus for parties with players. The parties allegedly were arranged by former U of L basketball assistant Andre McGee.
Jurich said the school imposed the penalty because “we want to deal with this in the most rapid way we can. We wanted to do what was right by the university and the NCAA. We support these actions. They will be very painful.”
Pitino called the word “painful” an understatement.
“It’s never easy for the people that don’t deserve it,” Pitino said of this year’s team, particularly mentioning the tough circumstances facing Lee and Lewis. “Damion and Trey have nothing to look forward to right now. They were hit over the head with a sledgehammer.”
Pitino said that coaches are purposely kept out of the loop during such investigations and that he accepted Ramsey’s findings.
“This penalty is quite substantial,” Pitino said. “It comes as a complete shock to me because I’ve been kept in the dark.”
Pitino recalled his time at the University of Kentucky, when he led the Wildcats program out of NCAA sanctions, and the fan support necessary to make that happen.
“I’ve had my share of crying,” the coach said. “I don’t want to go through it any more. This is certainly a night of extreme pain.”