The tide is turning for the reputation of the University of Louisville basketball program. A ruling from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process is expected today at 10 am, a ruling expected to affect former Louisville Head Coach and current Head Coach of Iona, Rick Pitino. It appears Pitino is set to hold a press conference via Zoom once the sanctions are announced.
The sanctions from the IARP have been delayed, allegedly, due to the global pandemic, but five years of reputational unrest for a storied program is seemingly mind-boggling. The University of Louisville is synonymous with college basketball. However, there has been a metaphorical cloud hanging over the program for the last five years anticipating the ruling from the IARP.
In the time since the allegations first arose, there has been a change in Presidents, a rise in inflation, and a completely different global culture than it was five years ago.
For example, one of the main focal points of this case is former five-star recruit Brian Bowen II, who matured from a nineteen year old teenager to a twenty-four year old adult in the time this case has been delayed.
The unfortunate reality in all of this is that Brian Bowen II was a five-star recruit who narrowly chose Louisville over Arizona. The only reason he chose the Cardinals was because Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins decided to return to the Wildcats foregoing the NBA, leading Bowen to commit to Louisville. Coach Pitino’s reaction to this was “we got lucky.” But he never got to suit up in a Louisville uniform and his basketball career was forever altered.
The anatomy of this case is built upon the pay-to-play scheme instituted by Adidas, in which the goal was to pay players to go to college and then once those players reached the NBA, then they would sign a shoe endorsement with Adidas. Along with this, it was reported that Louisville assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair were involved in it. It being that Bowen was one of the recruits targeted by Adidas to be involved in the pay-to-play scheme.
In July 2017, Assistant Coach Fair was allegedly caught on a wire-tap saying “we gotta be very low-key” in paying Bowen to come to Louisville because Louisville was still on probation from their 2015 sex scandal under Coach Pitino.
In this particular case, Pitino denied any knowledge of the payments to Bowen and his family. However, due to the lack of compliance by Coach Pitino, he was sentenced to unpaid administrative leave before ultimately being let go from the program. Following him out of the program was former Athletic Director Tom Jurich.
With all of this in mind, the Louisville basketball program is set to face seven allegations varying in severity. But the hope is that the University will get by with a lenient penalty considering the entire IARP organization will be dissolved in the near future.
Louisville deserves a breath of fresh air and one without any worry of what is coming for them. That is what is about to take place with this ruling. A dawn of a new age for Cardinal basketball is about to take place.