February 6, 2016

Self-inflicted wound hits U of L players and fanbase

Student Opinion

By Nick Amon–

“The first thing I tweeted when I first got here was: ‘God got me,’ and I truly believe that to this day.” This is what an optimistic Trey Lewis said to the media last Friday in response to U of L men’s basketball’s self-imposed postseason ban.

If only his optimism could save his last opportunity as a college athlete to showcase his skills. Oh wait, it can’t.

As Lewis sat next to fellow graduate transfer Damion Lee, it’s obvious neither expected to feel the bitter end of a situation that had nothing to do with their time at U of L. Yet each star player nodded their head in an act of confidence to see better days. I definitely couldn’t say I’d be reacting the same. Especially when the highlight of my final season was snatched away from me by a guy who wore a sombrero for his Halloween costume last fall.

Over the past months, it was relatively calm regarding the program’s prostitution allegations. This same calmness and anticipation quickly decimated this past Friday afternoon. It was announced that U of L’s basketball program will not be participating in either the ACC or NCAA tournaments this upcoming postseason.

President James Ramsey and Athletic Director Tom Jurich made this decision jointly, under the advice of university-hired investigator Chuck Smrt after they reportedly uncovered further evidence that justified the accusations by Powell’s book. The newly-uncovered evidence will not be released for reasons of interference with the ongoing NCAA investigation.

Many fans could agree this decision seems a bit impulsive. Not only does this self-inflicted low blow raise questions of the conversations going on behind closed doors between U of L and the NCAA, but it increases the already heightened tension surrounding Ramsey’s responsibilities as president of the university.

It’s difficult to look the other way when you have two players like Lewis and Lee having to address the media about a repercussion for an incident that took place when they weren’t even students at U of L. It’s a punch in the stomach for the clean-handed players and the loyal fanbase behind this phenomenal program.

I can’t help but question if this was a decision made from a cowardly position by Ramsey in order to lighten the load of future repercussions handed down by the NCAA, or this was a more strategized move in order to sacrifice a little for a lot down the road. I find it hard to find solace in either viewpoint and only find myself even more disgusted as I think more of the situation.

It remains difficult to wrap my head around such a move. It feels as if officials like Ramsey are treating this entire situation as a game of chess. This chess match features players and fans as pawns thrown in the line of fire regardless of what they’ve done for the university.

It’s remarkable how quick and swift this punishment was handed down. It only leads me to believe those who are on the inside of the university-led investigation are getting their hands pretty dirty in terms of finding out what really happened at Minardi Hall. The only problem is, it also leads me to believe these same people are willing to cleanse their hands of any wrongdoing and make someone else deal with the mess in return.


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