On Saturday, March 5th, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the University of Louisville men’s basketball season will come to a premature end. A self-imposed post season ban was issued by President Ramsey and athletic director Jurich due to findings from an internal investigation of possible NCAA violations. Although the NCAA has not concluded their investigation, the University acted upon their own findings in attempt to lessen future penalties that could be handed down from the NCAA.
In a press conference held on Friday, February 5th, one month prior to the last regular season game, the announcement of the postseason ban was made public. In that press conference, coach Pitino addressed the fans, asking everyone to rally around this team and show them as much love as possible because they were absolutely heartbroken. Pitino specifically mentioned Damion Lee and Trey Lewis.
Lee and Lewis are graduate transfers who came to Louisville to fulfill their dreams of playing in an NCAA tournament. This opportunity of playing at Louisville was their last chance to realize those dreams. Now their collegiate dreams are over. All they have left to play for is themselves and a chance to be the ACC regular season champions.
Widely regarded as men of great character and skill, they burst onto our scene in Puerto Rico during the exhibition games. They stole our hearts when they represented the team at ACC media day with their professional answers, amidst the just announced scandal, and Lee’s entertaining freestyle rap accompanied by Lewis’s piano play. On the court they have been spectacular as tremendous athletes and leaders.
It’s a travesty that they won’t be playing in the NCAA tournament. It upsets me as much as every other fan. The team, led by Lee and Lewis, played well enough to get into the tournament. Based on most projections they would have been a four seed and possibly a three or two seed depending on the results of the ACC tournament.
Even though it upsets me, I understand why the decision was made. It’s for the betterment of the program in the long run. It’s hard to remove emotion and look at it from a distance. I understand that it upsets you as well and that you are doing as coach Pitino asked in supporting them in their last few games but are we giving them too much love?
I am hearing people call into talk radio shows giving their ideas on how to honor them. I have heard people say their jerseys should be hanging in the rafters at the YUM Center. I have heard people say they should be grand marshals of the Ky Derby parade. There is a petition to give them the keys to the city. There is a petition to remove the postseason ban. Damion Lee tossed the ball up in a ceremonial jump ball before the Boston College game.
Stop! Please stop people. Enough with the overblown awards. Yes, they got a bad deal but its life and life is not fair. It’s one year of their lives. They received a free education and some free secondary education. They won’t have the burden of student loans. They got all the perks a student athlete gets that a regular student does not. They have a chef cook their meals. I had to scrape up some change to go get a taco from Taco Bell when I was a student at U of L. They have a masseuse at their service. They have nice living arrangements. They have a tutor help them with their school work. They got to fly to Puerto Rico and New York. I know people who have never flown or been to either place. After this season they will both be getting paid to play basketball either in the NBA or over seas. After their basketball careers are over they will be able to put their degrees to use, along with the help of the connections they made here in Louisville, and find a good paying job. They are set for the rest of their lives. Not playing in the tournament is a small price to pay. If they had stayed at the schools they originally enrolled in they would not be going to the tournament anyway.
In my opinion, one year at a University does not warrant most of the awards people are asking for them to receive. Here are the retired numbers at U of L, # 8 Charlie Tyra, #31 Wes Unseld, # 35 Darrell Griffith and # 42 Pervis Ellison. So people really think Lee and Lewis should be included in that group? There are 20 players who have their jerseys honored, including Rodney McCray, Junior Bridgeman, Milt Wagner, DeJuan Wheat and Derek Smith. You think Lee and Lewis fit with these guys? Notable athletes or sports figures that have been grand marshals of the Derby parade include, Denny Crum, Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall, Pat Day, Danny Sullivan, Winter Olympic bronze medalists: US bobsled team, Muhammad Ali, Kenny Perry and Teddy Bridgewater. Is this a fit for them?
I ask you to take your emotion and frustration out of it and look at this situation long-term. Sacrificing two players who have been here for all of one year is the right thing to do for the future of the program. The NCAA typically does not hand out two-year post season bans. USC didn’t get a two-year ban over the Reggie Bush scandal and that was a lot worse than our ten thousand dollar hooker scandal. So forfeiting this season will almost certainly ensure that we will be eligible next season. If Onuaku decides to stay and with the talent coming in, we should be a top five team next year. If we didn’t self impose then we would probably be issued a postseason ban next year, along with losing recruits and players transferring. The effects of that could last three or four years. Let’s just take our lumps now and move on.
I ask you to continue to support Lee, Lewis and this team. Go to the game, get in your seat early, stay till the clock says 0:00, cheer your hearts out, be loud, make a sign or a t-shirt. Show them love but stop with the crazy talk. I do love and respect your passion Card family but let’s keep it real. Give them the senior night they deserve and don’t worry about awards. They will get the awards they deserve. Their talent will not be overlooked when it comes to awards.
Feel free to leave me a comment below on how you feel about this subject and any other topic you wish to discuss. I am always up for friendly conversations. Card fans are the best. #L1C4
as always, GO CARDS!