Louisville receives notice of allegations stemming from FBI investigation

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Louisville on Monday received a notice of allegations from the NCAA that included one Level I allegation and three Level II allegations, including one against former Louisville and current Iona head coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino was hit with a head coach responsibility charge for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. The Level I allegation, which includes charges against former assistant coaches Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson, involve the $100,000 offer that was made to former signee Brian Bowen Jr. The school was also accused of failing to monitor the recruiting of an incoming student-athlete.

In a statement released by the school, Louisville president Dr. Neeli Bendapudi and athletic director Vince Tyra said the school is reviewing the notice of allegations and will respond to the charges in due time.

“It is important to remember that these are allegations — not facts — and the University will diligently prepare a full and comprehensive response and, absent an unforeseen development, submit it within the prescribed ninety-day period,” the Louisville statement said. “For those allegations that are proven to be factual, the University will take responsibility, as accountability is one of our core Cardinal Principles.

“However, we will not hesitate to push back where the evidence does not support the NCAA’s interpretations or allegations of charges. U of L has a right and a responsibility to stand up for itself when faced with unfair or unfounded charges and will always act in the best interests of the institution. Our legal team has begun the process of reviewing the Notice and will prepare a thorough response on behalf of the University.”

Bowen never played a game for Louisville after he was ruled ineligible in September of 2017, the same week that the FBI announced their investigation into the sport of college basketball. Within that investigation was evidence that Adidas, on behalf of the university, conspired to play Bowen’s father $100,000 to get him to attend Louisville. Bowen eventually went to Australia to play before getting selected in the second round of the 2019 draft by the Pacers.

Bowen committed to Louisville in June of 2017, the same month that Louisville was put on probation and forced to vacate their 2013 national title and 2012 Final Four due to a scandal involving strippers and sex workers that were used as recruiting tools by a former Louisville staff member, Andre McGee.

“Since arriving at Louisville, I have seen up close the incredible changes that have taken place under the leadership of President Bendapudi and Director of Athletics Vince Tyra in our university and in our athletics department. The shared values and commitment to integrity is evident in their actions and has always been demanded in the programs that my staff and I have led,” current Louisville coach Chris Mack said in a statement. “While I understand the allegations brought today, I am confident that the University will do what is right, which includes fighting back on those charges that we simply do not agree with, and for which the facts do not substantiate. The future is bright for Cardinal Basketball. Our focus will continue to be on our tremendous student-athletes.”

Pitino was suspended for five games as a result of the last investigation involving Louisville, but never served the punishment; he was fired in October of 2017. Louisville’s notice of allegations are particularly concerning for its former head coach, who was hired by Iona in March. Among the aggravating factors listed in the NOA is that Pitino has “a history of Level I, Level II or major violations” and that at the time the violations occurred, Pitino “was awaiting a decision from the Committee on Infractions and subsequently subject to a show-cause order as a result of the decision.”