Louisville basketball, former coaches avoid major penalties

An independent panel placed Louisville Men’s Basketball on two-year probation and fined the program $5,000, but spared the school — and former coaches Rick Pitino and Chris Mack — major penalties following allegations by the NCAA following a federal corruption investigation. in college basketball.

The Independent Resolution Committee (IRP) announced Thursday that Louisville avoided a postseason ban and other significant penalties in the violations case that began with the FBI’s 2017 corruption investigation around of college basketball and the school’s relationship with former star recruit Brian Bowen Jr.

Louisville was also banned from unofficial visits for two weeks, along with a public reprimand and censure. The panel concluded that the NCAA had failed to provide “evidence” that Adidas, cited as the orchestrator of a plan to funnel recruits to its partner schools, “was a representative” of the university.

Former Louisville assistants Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair, who had been accused by the NCAA of arranging payments to Bowen’s family and another rookie’s family and providing false information to the NCAA about their relationships with recruits, both received two years. penalties by the panel for Level I violations.

These penalties will limit their collective ability to work in college basketball during this time, though Johnson’s primary cause relates specifically to his ability to recruit at live events during those two years. Johnson is an assistant at Rhode Island on Archie Miller’s team, while Fair recently coached on the AAU Tour. Violations that did not involve Fair and Johnson were Level III violations.

The jury’s decision is final.

In 2017, the FBI alleged that Pitino and his team worked with Adidas, the school’s clothing partner, to funnel payments to Bowen and another recruit. Pitino, now head coach of Iona, and former sporting director Tom Jurich have been let go.

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations cited Pitino for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Several people linked to Adidas were charged and jailed for their role in the corruption scandal, but the panel determined that Pitino and Adidas were not at fault.

“As a result, the hearing panel found no additional violations for Louisville related to the actions of the apparel company or its employees in this matter,” the panel said in a statement. “Furthermore, the Hearing Panel determined that there was no violation by [Pitino] happened as it demonstrated that it fostered an atmosphere of conformity.”

David Benck, senior vice president, general counsel and assistant secretary of a retail company, international and domestic arbitrator, and chief IRP panel member, said the panel did not view Adidas as anything else than a company marketing itself in the Louisville business. .

“We interpreted that it was just promoting their own brand,” Benck said Thursday at a press conference. “On top of that…the institution has never asked for help with recruiting.”

The move could also bode well for Kansas, which faces similar charges of using Adidas to influence recruits in an infraction case also being handled by the IRP. Kansas announced Wednesday that it had self-imposed four-game suspensions on coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend, both of whom are named in the notice of allegations against the school.

As Louisville worked on the Bowen case, allegations of recruiting violations against Mack, who left the program last year, complicated and prolonged this chapter for Louisville. After former assistant Dino Gaudio threatened to expose NCAA allegations within the Louisville program after he was fired from Mack staff, he was charged in federal court with attempted extortion of the program. He was fined and placed on probation.

Louisville then self-reported several recruiting violations related to graduating managers and other personnel participating in field activities and showing recruits videos containing their names, pictures and likenesses.

But the IRP determined that these violations were “isolated and unintentional and provided no more than minimal recruiting or competitive advantage and, therefore, did not provide a sufficient basis to substantiate this.” [Mack] violated the Head Coach’s responsibility or failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) was created in 2019 as an alternative for schools that wanted their cases heard by people outside of NCAA Division I athletics. The process was obstructed by delays and complications, and the NCAA decided to eliminate the IARP after processing its next cases.

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