Louisville’s 2013 Championship team receives long overdue recognition

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: (L-R) Russ Smith #2, Wayne Blackshear #20 and Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after they won 82-76 against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at the Georgia Dome on April 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: (L-R) Russ Smith #2, Wayne Blackshear #20 and Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after they won 82-76 against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at the Georgia Dome on April 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Overwhelming Joy of the Championship

April 8, 2013 was the day the University of Louisville Cardinals matched up against the University of Michigan Wolverines at the Georgia Dome in front of a crowd of 74,326 people. The game was broadcast on CBS to an audience of 23.4 million viewers.

Jim Nantz handled the play-by-play, while Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr served as the color commentators. John Cahill, Tony Greene, and John Higgins were the game’s referees.

Michigan started Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary for the opening tip-off, while Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, and Gorgui Dieng filled out Louisville’s starting lineup.

The Wolverines pulled out to a 35-23 lead in the first half, behind a 17-point first half performance from the team’s backup point guard Spike Albrecht. However, the Cards managed to close the gap right before halftime, largely due to Louisville reserve Luke Hancock’s four-straight three-pointers.

There were several lead changes in the second half, but Louisville took a 76-66 lead on a Luke Hancock three-pointer, assisted by Russ Smith, with just 3:25 remaining, and managed to hold on to earn an 82-76 victory; thus crowing the Cardinals as national champions, and earning just their third NCAA title across all sports.

April 8, 2013 was one of the greatest days in the history of the university’s athletic program, especially for those who were born after March 31, 1986.

The Fallout

Louisville fans carried the joy of that day in April for years to come, and still hold it dearly in their memories. But the NCAA did not hold it to the same revered standard as the city of Louisville. Four years later, on June 15, 2017, the NCAA ruled that the University of Louisville must vacate its 2013 National Championship, as well as 122 other victories and its 2012 Final Four appearance, due to a scandal surrounding the idea that Head Coach Rick Pitino was aware of sexual acts performed by his players with hired sex workers.

But, in reality, all of this was orchestarted secretively by former Director of Basketball Operations, Andre McGee. Chane Behanan, a massive contribution to the 2013 championship team, recently confirmed this on an interview with Nick Coffey.

This scandal came on the heels of another scandal, which in turn led to the university firing Head Coach Rick Pitino over allegations surrounding the improper recruitment of five-star forward Brian Bowen II.

This decision to vacate the championship was later upheld by the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee in February 2018.

The Implications

The banners came down from the rafters, and the record books were “changed.” Asterisks were added to every mention of Louisville’s 2013 national title or any of the program’s accomplishments between the years of 2011 through 2015.

The University of Louisville and its fanbase were made to feel as if all the excitement, joy, and pride they felt during the 2012-2013 season needed to be erased. The athletic feats and team success that resulted from countless hours of conditioning, training, practicing, and watching film, were all just supposed to be forgotten.

Cardinal fans were all but told that the National Championship game, which was witnessed by tens of millions of basketball fans all over the country, did not happen.

Modern-Day Recognition

During the game against Clemson, scheduled for this Saturday February 18, 2023, the University of Louisville will honor the 2012-2013 men’s basketball team with a banner. This banner will not be the same as the one that hung in the KFC Yum! Center for nearly half a decade from 2013-2018.

Rather than “2013 NCAA Champions,” the new banner will read “2013 Final Coaches Poll #1.” Despite what one might think, this is a big victory for the University of Louisville.

In a press conference in November 2022, athletic director Josh Heird previously alluded to the fact that getting the banner back up was on “the to-do list.” And after consulting with the NCAA and the Committee on Infractions, a new agreement was made. The NCAA would allow the University of Louisville to honor the 2012-2013 team in this particular way.

Although it may not necessarily seem like it, especially given the recent struggles of the Louisville men’s basketball team, this new banner is great for the program and the fanbase as a whole.

A few months shy of exactly 10 years after their incredible run in the 2013 Big East Tournament and 2013 NCAA Tournament, the University of Louisville 2012-2013 men’s basketball team will be honored once again for their outstanding achievements.

Peyton Siva, Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Gorgui Dieng, Kevin Ware, Mike Marra, Stephan Van Treese, and Tim Henderson are among the members of the championship team that are expected to be in attendance tomorrow night.

While the team reunion will feel incomplete without the attendance of Chane Behanan, the University of Louisville, along with its fans, will have the opportunity to once again celebrate the amazing accomplishments and feats of the 2012-2013 championship team.

This new banner, along with the other banners lining the rafters, will be a reminder of the success and history of the program as well as the attainable goal that will someday once again be reached by the UofL men’s basketball program.