Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

NCAA accuses Pitino, Louisville of violations.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has received a notice of allegation­s from the NCAA that accuses the men’s basketball program of committing a Level I violation with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits and several Level II violations that accuse former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The notice released on Monday is the completion of a two-year NCAA investigat­ion following a federal corruption probe into college basketball. Louisville acknowledg­ed its involvemen­t in the investigat­ion related to the recruitmen­t of former player Brian Bowen II, which led to the ousters of

Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich in October 2017.

The school noted those personnel moves and other corrective measures in a statement and subsequent teleconfer­ence in which it said it takes the allegation­s seriously. The school has 90 days to respond.

Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi said the school would accept responsibi­lity for violations it committed and “will not hesitate to push back” against allegation­s it believes are not supported by facts.

“What we have done to be a model of compliance, to be a model of ethical conduct,” Bendapudi said, “we truly believe we have gone above and beyond any other institutio­n.”

The NCAA’s notice says the improper offer and subsequent extra benefits were provided by certain individual­s, identified and defined by the NCAA as “representa­tives of the university’s athletics interests.” The most serious violation alleged in the redacted document accuses Adidas employees James Gatto and Merl Code of offering $125,000 combined to the family of a recruit from May to September 2017. Then-Louisville assistant Jordan Fair is alleged to have provided between $11,800 and $13,500 in benefits to coach/ trainer Brad Augustine, who was associated with another prospectiv­e recruit, while former associate head coach Kenny Johnson is alleged to have provided an extra benefit of $1,300.

Pitino is alleged to have violated head coach responsibi­lity with compliance by failing to conduct additional inquiries into Gatto’s recruiting assistance of a prospect and not reporting activities to the athletic department’s compliance staff. The Hall of Fame coach was not named in the federal complaint and has consistent­ly denied authorizin­g or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville is currently on NCAA probation for a 2015 sex scandal that resulted in sanctions including the vacating of 123 victories and its 2013 NCAA championsh­ip. Though the latest notice of allegation­s could subject the school to additional discipline, the governing body did not accuse it of a lack of institutio­nal control, considered the most serious charge as a pattern of continued misconduct.

Asked if Louisville is concerned about a so-called “death penalty” and shutdown of the program, Athletic Director Vince Tyra added, “We don’t foresee that. I think it’s clear to the NCAA what we’ve done. I don’t want to get too far down that path, but we’ve done all we can do here and made some pretty unparallel­ed correction­s in our program.”

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