The NCAA has confirmed the University of Louisville must give up its 2013 national championship in men's basketball, denying the school's appeal of a decision last year that penalized the Cardinals' program for "arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others."
"The violations in the case resulted in some men's basketball student-athletes competing while ineligible," the NCAA explained in its announcement Tuesday, later adding: "The appeals committee stated when student-athletes participate while ineligible, these types of penalties are appropriate."
The ruling last June specifically faulted Andre McGee, the school's former director of basketball operations, for acting "unethically when he committed serious violations." It also singled out former coach Rick Pitino, who was fired last fall after a federal fraud investigation implicated Louisville in still another massive scandal.
For their rule violations, the NCAA ruled that the men's basketball program must vacate its records from 2011 to 2015 — including the 2013 title and a Final Four appearance in 2012. In total, the program will lose 123 wins, which ESPN Stats & Info says was second-most in men's Division I basketball over that span.
That 2013 title was Louisville's only men's national championship in the past three decades.
As member station WFPL reports, "the university must also return money received through conference revenue sharing for its appearances" in the NCAA tournament each of those years. ESPN notes this will also give Louisville the unwelcome distinction of being the first NCAA DI men's basketball team "to vacate a national title during the Final Four era."
Louisville, for its part, has staunchly objected to the decision.
"I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong," the university's interim president, Greg Postel, said in a statement Tuesday.
Postel asserted, as he said the school did in its appeal, that the program had apologized, cooperated and imposed penalties on itself — actions that "should have been a factor in the severity of the punishment," he said. "Instead, it was ignored."
"This dark cloud has hung over our heads for more than two years, and it has had a negative impact on our athletics program, our fans and the entire university family," he added. "While we disagree with the NCAA's decision, it is time for the university to close this chapter and move forward with a stronger commitment to excellence on and off the court."