NCAA stands firm on findings against Louisville in response

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The NCAA is standing by its charges of rules violations by Louisville, including holding the school being responsible for the conduct of sportswear supplier Adidas.

In its written reply sent to Louisville, obtained Monday by The Associated Press through an Open Records Request, college sports’ governing body acknowledged the school’s challenges against the men’s basketball team but stood firm on its findings.

“It is not a violation of NCAA rules for a corporate entity to be a representative of an institution’s athletics interests,” the governing body stated in its Enforcement Written Reply sent to the school on Dec. 1. “However, an institution is responsible for NCAA rules violations committed by one of its representatives.”

The NCAA has submitted its reply and case statement to a hearing panel of the Committee on Infractions, Louisville and involved individuals.

It also reaffirmed allegations that former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and noted that Louisville was already on probation among sanctions for a sex scandal.

The school in September challenged the Notice of Allegations sent in the wake of a federal corruption scandal in college basketball. Louisville sought to reclassify the highest-level violation of an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits and refuted a charge that Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in the program.

Louisville’s response also stated the NCAA allegations ignored wire fraud convictions against several people involved in a scheme to direct recruits to the school, including a former Adidas executive.

Which the NCAA also dismissed.

The NCAA cited its constitution and Bylaw 13.02.15 that “clearly states that institutions are responsible for the acts of ‘a corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer)’ when athletics administrators or staffers have “knowledge or should have knowledge” of five outlined behaviors.

The behaviors include assisting in the recruitment of prospects at the request of athletic department staff known to be assisting and providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes, the response stated.

As to Pitino, the response cited his contact with Adidas representative James Gatto in regards to the recruitment of a prospect and that he did not tell Gatto he shouldn’t be involved because it violates NCAA bylaws.

“Had Pitino fulfilled his responsibilities as a head coach when he encountered Gatto’s ‘strange’ offer,” the response stated, “he would have been promoting an atmosphere for compliance. Pitino did none of the above and was in violation of Bylaw 11.1.1.1. ”

The Notice of Allegations followed a two-year NCAA investigation began after a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

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