The Louisville Cardinal

NCAA’s unreasonable punishments hurt all the wrong people

By Megan Brewer–

The NCAA’s Committee of Infractions punishment on U of L’s men’s basketball program was an extreme nobody expected.

The NCAA was investigating U of L after a sex scandal was brought to light through Katina Powell’s book “Breaking Cardinal Rules.” The scandal involved former basketball operations director Andre McGee.

Punishments include suspending coach Rick Pitino from the first five ACC games, putting the program on a four-year probation and potentially vacating wins from 2010 to 2014. These are on top of the penalties U of L self-imposed in 2015.

In a conference held shortly after the NCAA announced its ruling, Pitino said “I feel, like everyone else up here, this is unfair, over the top and severe” referring to the punishments.

The NCAA’s penalties are “over the top.” They want to make a statement saying scandals like this are not okay, but their statement reads more like “we just need to do something.”

Let’s start with Pitino’s five-game suspension. This is not only a punishment for Pitino, but for his future players who had nothing to do with the scandal too. Punishing Pitino makes sense, but he’s already been punished with the self-imposed postseason ban.

The four-year probation also punishes future players for past mistakes. What does this accomplish more than a postseason ban did?

Nothing, except punishing players for McGee’s mistake.

The kicker is potentially vacating wins, which could include the 2013 national championship. Vacating a national championship is punishment to all the wrong people.

There is no evidence Pitino knew about the scandal, so being held responsible for failing to monitor his staff is ridiculous. He should be able to trust his staff with players and recruits like any university coach.

Vacating a national championship hurts Pitino, former players, current players and U of L as a whole. That punishment is not the way to make a statement. Taking away something the team has earned for someone else’s mistake is not the best option here.

The biggest problem is the severity of punishments on the university level compared to mild punishments for McGee and Powell.

The NCAA’s punishments are so extreme it’s as if they have some underlying evidence no one else does, including the Jefferson County District Court.

How can lack of evidence be the reason McGee and Powell were not indicted, but the NCAA has enough evidence to impose such harsh and extensive punishments?

The punishments placed upon U of L achieve nothing useful to the scandal. McGee and Powell are living without worry. The NCAA completely contradicted the Jefferson County court, making it look like the investigators that presented evidence to the court could have found enough evidence to indict them.

The NCAA has made themselves look confused about what they’re doing.

The NCAA needs to do better. They need to go after McGee, the person responsible for the scandal and reevaluate their punishments.

If the NCAA really wants to make a statement about this scandal, they should get their ducks in line first.