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Friday, June 16, 2017

Cardinal Couple Elephant In the Room Edition -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Those of you that follow Cardinal Couple closely may have noticed that I am a bit more reticent to shift over to coverage of the UofL men's sports than my colleagues, Case and Paulie.  That's not to say I'm not a fan by any stretch of the imagination, and as we enter the slower news season of summer, I'm grateful for the continued success of Baseball, both as a fan, and as a writer and radio co-host.

Today, however, there is no avoiding talking about Men's Basketball.  Even on Cardinal Couple, where we are all about the joy and excitement of UofL Women's Sports, we would be remiss not to take a few minutes to talk about the Men's Basketball program. Many women's sports fans also have been following these procedings.

If you are at all in tune with any UofL sports media over the past 24 hours, you are aware that the NCAA handed down their report on the recruiting scandal in the program.  Most people aware of the situation expected further punishments beyond what UofL had self-imposed, but based on the immense cooperation the Athletic Department, and specifically the Men's Basketball Program provided to the NCAA during the investigation, as well as the significant self-imposed penalties, the expectation was that those further punishments would be relatively minimal.

Boy was everyone wrong on that.

First, though...let's be clear...the events that went on in Minardi Hall were reprehensible and
repugnant.  The NCAA is absolutely correct in that assessment.  Andre McGee demonstrated complete lack of character and class, to say nothing of sound judgement, and discernment.  The sex trade is cause for despair, and the victims are numerous, including those who find themselves in life situations where selling sex becomes the best of bad options.  The Men's Basketball program was involved in this, and absolutely there should be punishment for their involvement.

Quickly, a rundown of the major points of the punishments that the NCAA decreed.  This isn't an exhaustive list, but I think it hits the high points:

  1. Loss of some scholarships over the next four years
  2. Pay back revenues from tournament appearances, both to the NCAA and conferences, for the relevant time period (2011-2014)
  3. Declare ineligible the players (3 of them, apparently) that were involved.
  4. Vacating wins during the relevant time period in which the ineligible players play, specifics of the games involved are to be determined, but will likely be all of the wins during the four year period, including the 2012 Final Four appearance and 2013 National Championship
  5. Monetary Fines
  6. Pitino suspended for 5 ACC games this coming season
  7. 10 year "Show Cause" on Andre McGee
OK, I've got issues with some of these.

I'll start by acknowledging some bias.  I despise the NCAA as an organization.  I have no respect for them, or for their leadership, all the way up to, and including the President of the organization, Mark Emmert.  This organization represents the height of hypocrisy and arrogance in nearly every situation they address.  Occasionally, however, they get some things right.

So, the ones I have no problem with.  The "Show Cause" on Andre McGee is warranted, and in my opinion should be lifetime, rather than just 10 years.  I only wish the NCAA had the ability to take more action against him, but since it is unlikely that McGee will ever have another role in an NCAA affiliated organization, he's pretty much out of their reach at this point.  Monetary fines I have no problem with, as well as the repaying the revenues from the tournament appearances.  Frankly, UofL Athletics is profitable enough, the fines should probably be bigger as the fines levied are small enough that they will essentially be lost in the noise of the department budget.  Paying back the tournament revenues is bigger and will be felt.  OK.  Punishment is supposed to hurt.

I can even accept the Pitino suspension.  Some Cardinal fans are up in arms about this one, citing the NCAA acknowledging that there is no evidence that Pitino knew of the events occurring, as well as Pitino pointing out that the NCAA has been unable, or at least unwilling, to point to specific actions that he should have, or even could have, taken to be aware of the problem at the time.  Even the NCAA acknowledged how close the information about these events was held by the recruits, players, and others involved.  Because of all this, I look at this one with a little bit of side-eye, but it is the job of the head coach to direct the program, so ultimately, even if he didn't have knowledge of it, Pitino carries responsibility for this.

How many guys? Three guys? 
The punishments I do have a problem with.  Declaring the (apparently) 3 players ineligible
retroactively.  There should probably be some sort of punishment for the players directly involved.  The problem, here, is that these players are not, by the NCAA's own rhetoric, employees.  They are students, and the NCAA supposedly holds dear the idea that amateurism is paramount (I say "supposedly" because the organization's actions don't really back that up).  Were the actions of the players also reprehensible?  Yes.  Do the actions show a lack of character, judgement, and respect for other humans?  For sure.  But if the NCAA is going to be true to their rhetoric that they are amateur students, then this is a legal matter for law enforcement to deal with, not the NCAA.  If another non-athlete student were to pay for sex in a dorm, that would be a matter for law enforcement, and the school wouldn't face punishment from accreditation groups.  The school might impose some of it's own punishment on those student, including potentially expulsion from the school, and I have no problem with that.  I'm not going to get up in arms about this punishment, but I do think it is out of line with NCAA rhetoric.

The last two are where I think the NCAA has completely swung and missed on their targets based on their stated intentions.  Vacating the wins, and specifically the Final Four appearance and National Championship, as well as eliminating scholarships missed the target.  These punishment target the students, past and future, actual and potential, rather than the organization or individuals involved.  Vacating the wins mostly targets the players that weren't involved in this.  Being unable to claim those victories and accomplishments, at least officially, harms them more than it does the people directly involved.

I think the loss of scholarship punishment is salvageable, with a tweak.  Instead of just preventing the University from funding those scholarships, if they required the school to use those funds to provide those same scholarship opportunities to non-athletes, the NCAA could turn this misstep into a win.  As it is, the punishment most targets future students who will not have that opportunity to get an education (again, this is according to well-established NCAA rhetoric, at least).  By funding non-athlete scholarships with those funds, the organization still takes the hit, but other students still get an opportunity at education.

The NCAA needs to take a long hard look at their amateurism rhetoric and see how it squares with the punitive measures it uses, because they are drastically out-of-step with each other.  Andre McGee screwed up, without a doubt.  I think it's a reasonable argument to say that Pitino screwed up somehow, and even the UofL Athletic Department as a whole, but let's make sure the punishments actually hit the perpetrators, and not the victims or innocent bystanders.

We will discuss these aspects and more on our Saturday morning radio show...The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. It airs at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Jared Anderson will be in studio with us...and we'll have the return of the mending Paulie...along with me and Case Hoskins. We'll talk about a few other items than the NCAA Committee report...but you can expect the majority of the broadcast to be about that.


-- JMcA


  1. I've got tomorrow's article slot, and I'm glad Jeff had to take the bullet on this one. I'll spare you all my thoughts in a textual form both in this comment and in tomorrow's article. I'll chime in a bit about where I think we go from here in my article tomorrow, but most of my commentary will come on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. Great breakdown by Jeff here, and, unfortunately, this is far from over.

  2. Well Played. I pretty much agree. Don't feel sorry for Pitino at all. He has years of experience in this game and makes millions of dollars. He should have been in front of it. He owns staffing decisions in MBB and he is responsible for hiring due diligence and employee monitoring. It's hardly surprising that young men are interested in what was offered and this isn't the first time the "sex for recruits" thing has come up over the past thirty years or so.

    Given the dollars and stakes involved it makes sense to hire a position to randomly check program employee activities, particularly as they relate to recruiting. It's a common practice in business and it keeps people honest. Just the prospect that a person in authority might randomly show up during MBB recruiting activities will force employees to pay attention. Could fund a mid to high level position ($150K +/-) easily with the UofL athletic budget. In the business world we used to call these "character builder" positions and trust me they work. You either catch the bad guys or they move on to an environment in which cheating isn't as risky.

    In any case...nice write up.

    1. Good points and one great article today. Rick Pitino knew. Had to have known. He's got to clear himself with the man upstairs each night on this one. That big a campus and that many incidents and no one saw nothing or decided to let coach know? When did UofL hire Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes? He needs to go. His watch, his responsibility.

      -- The Real Joe Hill --

    2. Yep...or it's like a police department internal affairs crew....not liked, loved or appreciated by anyone that isn't honest.

      Straight folks sleep well at matter what.

  3. You knocked this one far over the fence and over the Avenue of Championships Worldwide. Touch 'em all. A journalistic masterpiece today, compadre!


  4. 16 yr old boys, hookers, condoms, dollar bill stuffing. You take every bit of what you got Louisville and be damn thankful there wasn't more tossed at you.

  5. These penalty are way to harsh by the NCAA,hate to say this but other University just get a slap on the wrist.WOW!!!!


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