TAYLOR COUNTY—The University of Louisville is now the seventh program in NCAA history to receive an NCAA Notice of Allegations stemming from the FBI investigation into college basketball.
Louisville received the notice from the NCAA on Monday, including a Level I allegation involving improper recruiting benefits for former commit Brian Bowen II and the coach of another prospect, and three Level II allegations, including one against former head coach Rick Pitino.
The NCAA alleges that Pitino, now the head coach of the Iona Gaels of the Metro Atlantic Conference, did not fulfil his head coach responsibilities when he failed to conduct an “atmosphere of compliance.” Former assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair are accused of providing impermissible benefits and transportation and having impermissible contact with a Cardinals’ prospect.
Louisville officials and former coaches now have 90 days to respond to the NCAA’s allegations. Athletic director Vince Tyra said on Monday that the university could elect to arbitrate the case through the NCAA’s newly-created “Independent Accountability Resolution Process” (IARP), which includes hearing officers and investigators with no direct ties to the NCAA or any of its schools. The decision of the IARP is final and there are no appeals.
“It is important to remember that these are allegations, not facts, and the university will diligently prepare a full and comprehensive response and, absent an unforeseen development, submit it within the prescribed ninety-day period,” Louisville president Neeli Bendapudi said in a joint statement with university vice president Vincent Tyra. “For those allegations that are proven to be factual, the university will take responsibility, as accountability is one of our core Cardinal principles.”
“However, we will not hesitate to push back where the evidence does not support the NCAA’s interpretations or allegations of charges. U of L has a right and a responsibility to stand up for itself when faced with unfair or unfounded charges and will always act in the best interests of the institution. Our legal team has begun the process of reviewing the notice and will prepare a thorough response on behalf of the university.”
Pitino, who was hired at Iona on March 14th after most recently coaching in the EuroLeague, had the following to say in regards to the most recent claims.
“I firmly disagree with this allegation and will follow the protocols in addressing this allegation through the administrative process. Due to NCAA bylaws on public disclosure on enforcement issues, I will have no further comment on this matter until it is resolved.”
Iona said it is aware of the report and issued the following statement.
“Prior to hiring Coach Pitino, we conducted extensive due diligence. We support Coach Pitino and expect him to respond within the process,” the school said.
Kansas, NC State, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina, TCS, and USC have also been accused of Level I violations over the years. TCU and USC, however, did not publicly release the allegations they were facing.
Prior to the most recent allegations, the NCAA placed Louisville on probation for four years in June of 2017, following a two-year investigation into allegations that a former Louisville staff member arranged for striptease dances and adult acts for recruits and players during parties at an on-campus dormitory from 2011-2015. As a result, the Cardinals were forced to vacate their 2013 National Championship and 2012 Final Four appearance, and they self-enforced a postseason ban for the 2015-16 season.