Louisville basketball is self-imposing more sanctions on its team in the wake of an escort scandal amidst an NCAA investigation.
According to Bleacher Report, the school announced Wednesday that it will strip itself of two scholarships and two official visits in the coming years.
The NCAA allows for 13 scholarships. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Louisville will reduce its scholarships by one in 2017-18 and another for the 2018-19 season. The official visit reductions will be one apiece this year and in 2016-17.
— heraldleader (@heraldleader) April 6, 2016
In addition, the Cardinals will reduce its recruiting days by 30 this year, which amounts to approximately 24 percent of its recruiting opportunities for the season. It will reportedly miss 24 days this month and another six in July.
Steve Thompson, outside legal counsel for the university, announced the move in a press release Wednesday and said the university decided to impose more sanctions on its men’s basketball team because “it’s the right thing to do.”
“After much deliberation, the University believes that self-imposing these penalties is appropriate. While the University could elect to wait until the infractions process is complete, those consulted agree that these penalties are consistent with NCAA legislation, and imposing these penalties now is the right thing to do and may advance the University’s goal of expediting resolution of this matter.”
A source told Yahoo Sports that the additional self-sanctions do not stem from any additional violations discovered during the ongoing NCAA investigation of the basketball program.
Instead, the team felt compelled to self-impose to make the point that violations will not be tolerated.
— SI Wire (@SI_Wire) April 6, 2016
Last fall, a book by Louisville resident Katina Powell alleged that she paid for strippers and escorts to dance with and have sex with members of the team and new recruits.
The book, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen, which was published on October 3, said that former basketball staff member Andre McGee paid Powell to provide the call girls to the team members and recruits.
In the wake of Powell’s claims, Louisville University and the NCAA launched separate investigations into the allegations.
— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) March 31, 2016
In February, Louisville basketball conceded that violations had occurred and announced that it would not play in the 2016 postseason. The school withdrew itself from the Atlantic Coast Conference in time for the league to rearrange itself for tournament action and did the same for the NCAA tournaments.
The additional sanctions came after the school took some time to consider the facts of the case and determine a proper penalty for the alleged infractions.
Head coach Rick Pitino has maintained from the get-go that he had no knowledge of the violations and has the support of athletic director Tom Jurich. He is expected to return in 2016-17 as head coach of the Louisville basketball program.
There is no set date for the conclusion of the NCAA investigation, and additional interviews with key personnel involved in the scandal are scheduled.
Despite the self-imposed sanctions, Louisville has yet to receive official notice of the allegations, and any hearing before the Committee on Infractions will not be conducted anytime in the near future.
— WKYT (@WKYT) April 6, 2016
In its press release, Louisville basketball said it is bound by its responsibility to abide by the regulations of the NCAA but has no further comment on the allegations or any additional facts.
“As a member of the NCAA, the University takes its responsibility for NCAA compliance seriously, and has cooperated with the NCAA in an effort to close this difficult chapter as soon as possible consistent with NCAA enforcement procedures. Under NCAA rules, the University is not able to discuss the investigation or the facts developed to date, but looks forward to doing so at the conclusion of the NCAA enforcement process.”
Despite the sanctions, Louisville basketball is expected to compete as it always has, with some early predictions placing the 2016-17 squad in the top five nationwide.
[Photo by AP]