Fact is, there is something sort of Soviet about an organization declaring events witnessed by thousands not to have actually happened in its official records.
Many claim the universities ordered to strike game results from their media guides and remove banners from their arena rafters are suffering no true penalty at all.
The near-despair emitting from many Louisville Cardinals backers since last June argues otherwise.
It was last June 15 when the NCAA Committee on Infractions made it apparent that Louisville’s 2013 NCAA championship — not to mention its 2012 Final Four trip and 123 total men’s hoops victories overall — was in jeopardy as a result of the “escorts for sex parties for recruits in the basketball dorm” scandal that engulfed the Cards’ program.
In the distress in The Ville over the prospect of a title banner coming down, one age-old question has been settled:
A “vacation” — essentially the removal of official NCAA sanction of a school’s athletics achievement(s) — actually can be a penalty with sharp teeth.
If you had looked in on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, Dan Dakich, the one-time college basketball head coach turned ESPN college hoops analyst and polarizing Indianapolis radio talk show host, had the U of L sports universe in a tizzy.
After teasing major Louisville basketball news for hours, Dakich finally claimed he had a “close friend” with a “source in the room” when the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee allegedly rendered its final ruling on U of L’s appeal in the case. According to the “source of Dakich’s friend,” the NCAA has decided to officially vacate the 2013 NCAA title Rick Pitino won at U of L while also fining the school $15 million.
A Louisville spokesman denounced the report from Dakich — the one-time Indiana Hoosiers basketball player, Bowling Green State University head coach and IU interim head coach — as “pure speculation” while noting U of L has yet to receive final word from the NCAA.
The fact that an Indianapolis radio talk show host was the top trending topic in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon in the time leading up to Dakich’s “news” reveal was telling. It’s just the latest example of how much the prospect of their school becoming the first ever to have to take down an NCAA championship banner bothers U of L backers.
Since the Committee on Infractions first put U of L’s 2013 NCAA title in jeopardy last June with a ruling that Louisville had played ineligible players as a result of the escorts/strippers for recruits scandal, it has amazed me that some national sports media voices have claimed U of L was not being severely punished.
No one who understands college basketball fans in Kentucky believes that.
In the Commonwealth, men’s NCAA basketball titles are the holy grail of sports achievements.
With all the resources and emphasis Louisville has put into men’s college hoops across the decades, it only has three NCAA title banners hanging in the KFC Yum Center.
To be ordered to take one of those down while losing official sanction of that 2013 championship would be a spear into the U of L heart.
Being the first school to “vacate” a national championship is a punishment that will have legs deep into the future, too.
It’s easy to imagine national broadcasters working U of L games in coming decades on ESPN3 or Amazon or Hulu — or whatever medium will arise to disseminate live sports programming — long mentioning the men’s hoops NCAA title Louisville forfeited.
So, if nothing else, the scandal created by Katina Powell and Andre McGee at U of L has settled one college sports debate for all time:
As a punishment, an NCAA-mandated “vacation” can deeply sting a school and its fans — if what is being “vacated” matters enough to hurt over.