The former coach strongly believes that that season’s team still deserves to hold the championship title.
The results of an NCAA probe into the Louisville men’s basketball program regarding a 2017 FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball were released on Thursday, and Louisville avoided major sanctions from the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP)’s decision.
The former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who was fired in 2017 after the scandal broke out, spoke to media about the ruling on Thursday. The current Iona coach chose to use the time to also bring up Louisville’s vacated 2013 NCAA tournament title.
The team gave up its basketball title in 2018 after the NCAA denied its appeal. It was discovered that the program was “arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others” to entice players to attend the school, per NPR. The program also had to vacate its records from 2011 to ’15, which also included the team’s 2012 Final Four appearance. They lost 123 wins from those seasons.
Pitino strongly believes that his 2013 team still deserves to hold the championship title.
“You don’t take championships away,” Pitino said, via the Courier Journal. “You can’t rewrite history. We won the championship. No, we did not use steroids. We did not steal signs. We did not do anything illegal to gain an advantage of the game of basketball. We beat Michigan with great defense—an outstanding, well-coached Michigan team. We beat Wichita State—an outstanding, well-coached team—with hard work ethic, great defense, unselfish offense, and my players should be commended. They are champions. You can’t take that away from them.”
Pitino believes if the IARP were running the investigation that ultimately caused the program to vacate the title, the title would not have been stripped.
“I will tell you this: If the IARP was involved in looking at that case, that banner would still be hanging today, because they don’t have anything except experts on that panel—not a committee hired by the NCAA,” Pitino continued. “It doesn’t work that way. It’s not about hearsay; it’s looking at the facts, looking at the evidence and coming away with an honest decision. So that’s not a knock on the people that serve on those committees, but those young men in 2013, they won a championship the honest way. Was it reprehensible behavior that some of them were involved in and an assistant coach? 100%. We were against that at the University of Louisville.”
It sounds like this could be something the university is considering after Louisville athletic director Josh Heird told media on Thursday if the school is able to, they would look into the possibility of the program earning its banner back.
“While I’m not gonna sit up here and make any promises, I can tell our fan base, unequivocally, that if there’s an opportunity for us to do something along those lines, we’re going to try to do it,” Heird said, via Louisville Report.
Regarding the IARP ruling, Louisville avoided any major sanctions, including avoiding a postseason ban and any NCAA penalties for Pitino and former coach Chris Mack. However, the program must pay a $5,000 fine and take a minor reduction in available recruiting days, as well as two years of probation.
More CBB Coverage:
- The IARP–and Its Lack of a Spine in Its Louisville Ruling–Is the NCAA’s Biggest Failure Yet
- Jim Nantz Gives Up the NCAA Tournament, But He Says He’ll Call NFL for a ’Long, Long Time’
- How Kellie Harper’s Past As a Player Is Shaping the Vols’ Future
- Louisville Report: Payne on Louisville’s Loss to Lenoir-Rhyne: ‘We Needed This Whooping’
For more Louisville coverage, go to Louisville Report.