Louisville is voluntarily withholding its men’s basketball team from this season’s Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments, as the NCAA investigates a scandal in which a former basketball employee allegedly purchased strippers and prostitutes for some recruits and their fathers from 2010 to 2014.
James R. Ramsey, the university president, announced the decision, which he said he made in consultation with athletic director Tom Jurich, at a news conference Friday afternoon as coach Rick Pitino, a two-time national championship winner, looked on.
After hearing from NCAA staff, Ramsey said, he “determined it was reasonable to conclude that violations had occurred in the men’s basketball program in the past.”
Pitino reiterated previous statements that he had been unaware of the alleged violations. The allegations were first made in a book published late last year by a woman who says Andre McGee, formerly Louisville’s director of basketball operations, hired her to provide strippers and prostitutes at 22 parties at Louisville’s residential hall for basketball players from 2010 to 2014.
Colleges frequently self-impose postseason bans if it becomes clear the NCAA is likely to do so in the future. Last year, Syracuse announced that it would withhold its men’s basketball team from the postseason about a month before the NCAA Committee on Infractions found violations related to players’ academics.
Critics say that such bans deal the harshest punishment to current players, many of whom might not have borne responsibility or even been present for the alleged violations, and not to administrators and coaches.
Louisville, ranked 19th, is coming off an upset victory over No. 2 North Carolina. The Cardinals won the 2013 national championship.