October 20, 2016

The NCAA issues a hollow NOA to U of L

By Chris Acree —

Let’s hope that one of these days here soon, I won’t have to write about this nonsense.

This Thursday, the NCAA delivered a Notice of Allegations to the school after their investigation into accusations made by She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named about former assistant coach Andre McGee and a plethora of strippers.

After almost a year of waiting, the U of L fanbase finally received answers to (some of) the NCAA questions that had dogged the men’s basketball program last fall. Unfortunately, much of the fan base probably had a few more questions after the release of the findings than beforehand as they realized that this ordeal isn’t going to be over anytime soon.

The worst case scenario: Minardi Hall turned into a veritable cathouse, Coach Pitino awaiting his money in a nearby Cadillac, pimp-hand cocked and ready to dispense discipline to disobedient ladies of the evening, did not occur. Likewise, the NCAA did not say “Well, we couldn’t find anything wrong. You can keep the 2013 banner and you know what, we’ll just award you the 2015 National Championship as well because you were clearly better than everybody else in the bracket and we feel bad.”

Instead, what the U of L fanbase got was something in the middle. Coach Rick Pitino was hit with “failing to monitor” former assistant coach Andre McGee, which is still a serious charge, but not the capital offense of a “lack of institutional control.” They also hit McGee and a former team assistant Brandon Williams (who?) for failing to comply with the NCAA investigation.

As to what any further penalties will be, nobody will know for a while. The school has 90 days to respond to the NCAA, which then has 60 more days to formulate a final ruling. That means that any ultimate punishments won’t be handed down until the spring semester.

While this arguably means that this upcoming basketball season is safe and won’t feature any February surprises, it ultimately means several more months of uncertainty and headache-inducing arguments with UK fans that will almost inevitably end with something like “Blah blah blah, hookers.”

While this situation can’t be compared completely with past incidents at other schools, signs seem to point to Pitino being suspended a few games and perhaps some scholarships lost. More than likely, the banner will still hang from the rafters and no more postseasons will be yanked from our hearts. So what does U of L do now?

Basically, U of L has said they’re going to fight Pitino’s “failure to monitor” charge. And this sounds good initially until you realize that they’ve pretty much already admitted to this failure with the self-imposing bans a year before the NOA even dropped. The right time to fight would have been from the very beginning, or at least wait until the NOA arrived.

At least that’s what The University of North Carolina did. They dodged and denied basically all the accusations the NCAA rained down upon them during their fiasco and eventually were hit with an academic fraud allegation. Did this deter their athletic programs and pressure the university to self-impose any bans?  Of course not. And now they’re even challenging if NCAA has authority on academic matters in the first place.

More or less, U of L should fight, even if it’s a losing battle started too late. While they probably won’t be able to salvage the reputations of some of the parties involved, they can still shine some light on the hypocrisy and ineptitude of the NCAA and how they treat universities differently.

Now while UNC’s allegations concerned academics and U of L’s is about recruiting, their arguments are much the same. What does the NCAA have the authority to do? They’ve botched countless investigations in the past and have back-tracked penalties they’ve administered (such as the hammer they laid on Penn State), usually when institutions start threatening lawsuits.

Questions, uncertainty and further speculation remain, but one thing we can be happy with is the fact that the school has arrived at the next step of the process and it’s that much closer to the end of the whole mess. Maybe then I’ll finally be able to stop having to write about this nonsense.

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