Pitino gets 5-game ban for Louisville sex scandal

Louisville coach Rick Pitino will be suspended for the first five ACC games in 2017-18 for failing to monitor his program during an alleged sex-for-pay scandal, and the program will be on probation for four years, the Division I Committee on Infractions announced Thursday.

It’s also unclear if Louisville will keep its 2012-13 national championship after the committee issued “a vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014.” The NCAA said the school must provide a list of games impacted by the decision within 45 days.

“Without dispute, NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for stripteases and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes and/or those who accompany them to campus,” the panel said in its decision.

The NCAA ruled Pitino “violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules” by failing to monitor the activities of former assistant Andre McGee, who is alleged to have hired strippers to entertain players and recruits.

McGee received a 10-year show cause penalty.

In its ruling Thursday, the Committee on Infractions ruled McGee “acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation.”

The Cardinals also will face scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions, a $ 5,000 fine and the forfeiture of any money received though conference revenue sharing from the 2012-15 NCAA tournaments.

The committee also accepted Louisville’s self-imposed postseason ban from the 2015-16 season.

Pitino’s penalty — he will not be allowed to have any contact with his team during the suspension — is similar to those suffered by Larry Brown and Jim Boeheim, who were suspended for nine games following failure to monitor charges related to separate academic scandals.

Louisville had fervently contested the NCAA’s allegations against Pitino, who had told the NCAA Committee on Infractions that he lacked the ability to uncover the details of McGee’s alleged arrangement of promiscuous parties with strippers and escorts for prospective recruits during a four-year stretch between 2010 and 2014.

Pitino’s attorney, Scott Tompsett, detailed his rebuttal in a January letter to the NCAA.

“The enforcement staff has overreached in this case,” Tompsett said then. “Pitino should never have been charged. … Pitino absolutely did actively look for red flags, but there never were any red flags giving any signs or even a hint of McGee’s illicit activities.”

McGee never spoke to the NCAA.

The Committee on Infractions ruled Thursday that Pitino did not meet his monitoring responsibility by “simply trusting an individual to know NCAA rules and to do the right thing.”

“By his own admission, the head coach was unaware of what occurred in Minardi Hall from 10 p.m. until the following morning, but he often had contact with the visiting prospects on the day following their overnight stays in Minardi Hall,” the NCAA’s report stated.

The allegations about the program came to light when Katina Powell, the self-described former escort at the center of the scandal, published her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” in 2015.

The book detailed how she and her associates had accepted invites and compensation from McGee to attend parties for more than a dozen recruits at Billy Minardi Hall, where they danced and had sex with the some of the young men.

“I cannot help but wonder if the lack of contrition demonstrated by the university’s athletics staff contributed to the severity of these penalties,” Larry Wilder, the attorney for Powell, told ESPN on Thursday. “It seems that an immediate acceptance of responsibility by the head coach of the program may have softened the blow and possibly sent a signal to the NCAA that there was a true acceptance of responsibility.”

Powell and McGee will not be criminally charged after a grand jury in Jefferson County, Kentucky, declined to return an indictment against either because of the lack of sufficient credible evidence.

“Today should mark the end of this process for everyone involved,” Wilder said Thursday. “The NCAA has spoken and it would seem that it’s time to learn from these events and move on.”

ESPN reporter John Barr contributed to this report.

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