Rick Pitino Suspended 5 Games; Records Vacated: NCAA

The NCAA handed down major punishment to the Louisville men's basketball program and coach Rick Pitino on Thursday for violations involving players receiving sexual favors arranged by a former staffer.

Pitino, cited for a failure to monitor, will be suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games in the 2017-18 season, and the school will be placed on four years of probation.

The ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions is the culmination of an investigation that dated back to late August 2015, when Louisville was first informed of a book written by escort Katina Powell that alleged former basketball staffer Andre McGee paid for dances and sex on behalf of players and recruits.

Louisville must also vacate records in which three student-athletes involved competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014 and will have four scholarships reduced during its probationary period. 

The Cardinals won the NCAA national championship in 2013. There was no mention of whether that title would be vacated in the release from the NCAA.

"The university will provide a written report containing the games impacted (by the vacation of records)," the NCAA's release said, "to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release."

Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein did not immediately respond to a call seeking clarification on the vacation of records the school's title or its 2012 Final Four appearance.

McGee received a 10-year, show-cause penalty from the NCAA. Former assistant Brandon Williams received a one-year show cause order for his involvement.

TIMELINE: The NCAA investigation into Louisville basketball

The subsequent investigation from the allegations resulted in the school self-imposing penalties that included a postseason ban for the 2015-16 team. No further postseason ban will be imposed. Louisville also already voluntarily reduced two scholarships in 2016-17.

In October 2016, the NCAA charged Louisville with four major allegations tied to McGee's misdeeds. They included an allegation that Rick Pitino failed to appropriately monitor McGee to uncover compliance problems.

Louisville contested the allegation against Pitino (which was met with a reply from the NCAA), and the case went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions during a meeting in April in Cincinnati.

In the ruling, the NCAA said even though Pitino contended he was not aware of the violations, he was ultimately responsible for McGee's actions.

"By his own admission, the head coach and his assistants did not interact with prospects from 10 p.m. until the next morning," the NCAA release stated. "The panel noted that the head coach essentially placed a peer of the student-athletes in a position of authority over them and visiting prospects, and assumed that all would behave appropriately in an environment that was, for all practical purposes, a basketball dorm."

Pitino will miss home games against Virginia, Pittsburgh and Duke and road contests at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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