By Matt Bradshaw —
The NCAA has given a verbal notice of inquiry to the University of Louisville regarding possible violations with its men’s basketball program. The move shows the NCAA may be moving forward in assessing the violations committed in the pay-for-play scandal involving several schools, adidas and the FBI investigations revealed in October 2018.
Jeff Greer of The Athletic first reported the story, noting that Arizona and Kansas are also under investigation. U of L spokesman John Karman confirmed the inquiry.
“We received verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA on March 8,” Karman said. “There are no other details I can provide at this time.”
A verbal notice is the first step in the NCAA inquiry process. A written notice, yet to be received by U of L, usually follows and the school is not allowed to disclose the subject matter of such inquiries.
An October 2018 federal trial, spurred by the FBI investigations, found two adidas officials and former sports agent Christian Dawkins guilty on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Dawkins was directly involved in conspiring to pay $100,000 to basketball recruit Brian Bowen’s father to influence his son to sign with Louisville in summer 2017.
Read here for the sordid details of the pay-for-play scheme involving Dawkins and Louisville. Read here for an informative timeline on five-star recruit Bowen and the alleged corruption within former coach Rick Pitino’s staff.
The NCAA verbal notice of inquiry is important because U of L was already in trouble to begin with.
The Andre McGee-Katina Powell sex-for-recruits scandal resulted in men’s basketball forfeiting 123 wins, losing scholarships, losing its 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title, and being placed on probation through 2021.
After that scandal broke, Pitino’s staff was revealed to have committed violations during the probationary period. Former assistants Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair provided improper cash payments to potential recruits.
These cash payments included Johnson and Dawkins collaborating on payments to Bowen’s father, in exchange for having Brian Bowen attend Louisville and sign with adidas upon turning pro.
The payments and conversations regarding the payments occurred during 2017, squarely within the timeline of U of L’s probation. If the NCAA capitalizes on the additional violations, the school and its men’s basketball program will face enhanced penalties.
But the effect of violations will be felt beyond potential penalties, however severe they might turn out to be. The violations could affect the future stability of men’s basketball on campus.
The program was thought to have turned a corner, with self-imposed penalties and the firing of old staff. Head coach Chris Mack, along with athletic director Vince Tyra, have worked beyond the past with the ability to broadcast U of L as a program reborn.
This is evident with a 2019 NCAA Tournament appearance and one of the top 2019-2020 recruiting classes in the nation. Some preseason predictions posit Louisville as a top-15 team next year.
Positive talking points like this will continue to bring talented recruits to the program, but further penalties imposed by the NCAA will not. If men’s basketball continues to be punished, along with the negative publicity brought on by investigations, it will lead to other schools drawing recruits and their parents away from the murky cloud that still hangs over U of L.
For further information on these developments, Eric Crawford of WDRB provides analysis here on what U of L can do moving forward.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal