Three years ago, the National College Athletic Association restructured its enforcement division in hopes of creating stronger punishments for schools that choose to engage in illegal activity. Simply stated, if a college or university engages in illegal activity within the athletic department, the NCAA will issue consequences—major consequences.
Some of the consequences schools could potentially face are losing scholarships, recruiting privileges and—the harshest of them all—postseason participation. Not participating in the postseason includes forced withdrawal from the team’s conference tournament. For basketball programs, this means sitting out of the renowned March Madness tournament.
The most recent team in NCAA college basketball to be hit with a postseason ban is one of the most successful programs in all of college basketball history—the Louisville Cardinals. Coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals lost all postseason privileges this year following Katrina Powell’s allegations in her book Breaking Cardinal Rules.
The allegations in the book were shocking to say the least. Among other claims, she and other women were paid by Andre McGee, a former Louisville staffer, to have sex with basketball recruits on their visit to the university. Once these claims were made public, the NCAA began the investigation with Louisville following the allegations. Four months later, they concluded that these claims were, in fact, true.
Louisville’s President, James R. Ramsey, told the press two weeks ago that they will self-impose the postseason ban to the basketball program. This decision is under heavy scrutiny, especially with Sports Illustrated staff members due to their allegiance to everything sports.
What bothered Seth Davis, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, the most about the decision made by Ramsey is that it affects two star seniors on the Cardinals.
However, the seniors he speaks of are not your typical seniors. Trey Lewis and Damion Lee are graduate seniors. They previously graduated from their respective schools—Lewis from Cleveland State and Lee from Drexel—and still had one remaining season to compete in college. Lewis and Lee both chose to come to Louisville to compete for the national championship.
Up until two weeks ago, this was still right in view for the Cardinals who had just come off a big win against second-seeded North Carolina. Now the hopes of going to the March Madness tournament are shattered for both star seniors. In his Sports Illustrated article, Davis wrote about his distaste for the punishment. He believes the NCAA is wrong for having postseason bans for athletic teams because it’s not fair to the players and the coach.
Some may agree with Davis and his kindness towards players and coaches, but in this case, the whole basketball program and everyone else surrounding the team activities were in the wrong for what happened during the recruiting visits. Giving out sex is an unacceptable way of trying to entice a high school student to come play for your team. It is not only shameful to the basketball program, but also to the university.
Whether postseason bans continue to be used as the highest form of punishment still remains in question. Regardless, the NCAA and universities need to stop letting legendary coaches and athletic programs off the hook when the rules are broken. Sometimes severe punishments are necessary to make the point known that no one is above the law.
Luke Moyer is a senior majoring in communication. He can be reached at MoyerS@jbu.edu.