In appeal paperwork filed with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, Louisville called the sanctions handed down earlier this summer “draconian”, “unjust” and “grossly disproportionate”.
After an investigation that lasted more than a year, the NCAA ruled that, in addition to the self-imposed penalties from early 2016, which included a ban from the 2015-16 postseason, Rick Pitino was to be suspended for five games and the Cardinals would have to forfeit every game in which a retroactively ineligible player participated. This would mean that Louisville’s 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title would be vacated.
According to the appeal, Louisville “fully agrees … that McGee committed egregious misconduct” and “does not dispute in the slightest that his actions warranted serious penalties” for both himself and the university. That, they say, is why they self-imposed sanctions, which, at the time, was a massive deal. In other words, Louisville’s argument is that they already gave themselves a significant punishment, and that the COI incorrectly did not factor that into their decision-making process when handing out a punishment.
The other argument that Louisville makes is that none of the three players that were ruled retroactively ineligible were “properly deemed ineligible,” saying that one player left the room before the dance had started, one received benefits below the NCAA’s restitution threshold and one was “shielded by the COI’s grant of limited immunity.”
“Not one student who later competed in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons engaged in a sex act,” the appeal read. “Even if these student-athletes were technically ineligible, they would unquestionably have been reinstated.”
To prove this point, Louisville argued that a player who was still playing in the fall of 2015, when the story first broke, had a petition for reinstatement for $205 of benefits filed, and granted. The player’s “eligibility restored without any loss of competition.”
Essentially, Louisville is saying that not only is vacating the wins from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 season too harsh of a punishment, but that the punishment would not have been given has they learned about what was happening in Billy Minardi Hall during those seasons.
Louisville has a valid argument, but it may fall on deaf ears.
The salacious details of this scandal — a staff member paying for hookers and strippers for underage recruits — carry more weight for the NCAA than does precedence or any argument Louisville can make about the value of a lap dance.
The COI has a month to respond to the appeal.