NCAA suspends Rick Pitino for five ACC games following sex scandal probe
The NCAA suspended University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games next season following an investigation into the program's basketball escorts case.
Pitino's suspension is just one penalty levied against the program, which was put on probation. Former staffer Andre McGee was hit with a 10-year show cause penalty after the NCAA said Pitino failed to monitor McGee, a former director of basketball operations at Louisville.
The NCAA investigated the program after a woman alleged that McGee hired strippers for sex parties with players and recruits and subsequently charged the school with four Level 1 violations including one against Pitino.
The penalties handed down Thursday include four years of probation for the university, men’s basketball scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions and a fine of $5,000. Louisville also received a public reprimand and censure.
Louisville, who won the 2013 NCAA men's basketball title, will also vacate basketball records in which players competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014. They have 45 days to submit a report to the NCAA concerning the games impacted.
School officials said the 2013 title game is one of 15 tournament games that ineligible players participated in during that time period.
The university released a statement from its interim president Greg Postel saying it will appeal the NCAA's ruling, calling the penalties "excessive."
"We believe the penalties imposed today are unfair to the UofL community and our current and former student-athletes, many of whom have already paid a heavy price for actions that did not involve them. This ruling is also unfair to Coach Pitino, who we believe could not have known about the illicit activities," Postel said.
Pitino was accused of not noticing red flags in the activities of McGee.
“Without dispute, NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for stripteases and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes and/or those who accompany them to campus,” the NCAA said.
The probe started after Katina Powell said in her book "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," that McGee paid $10,000 for her and other dancers to perform for players at the team's dormitory over a five-year period beginning in 2010.
Pitino denied having any knowledge of the activities described in Powell's book with the school saying Pitino "fostered a culture" of compliance within NCAA rules.
Louisville agreed with the NCAA in its response to the Notice of Allegations in January that impermissible benefits took place on 37 of 40 alleged instances.
The school's own investigation into the allegations resulted in a self-imposed postseason ban after the 2015–16 season, even though the team was ranked in the top 20 for the majority of the season and would have likely received an NCAA tournament bid.