I Got Your Back

The 2015-2016 Louisville Basketball season left fans of the program with broken hearts and dreams of next season. The fans also exited the college basketball season with a new motto that some “fans” seem to have forgotten, “I got your back.” That is all that could truly be held onto after Louisville’s season was cut short due to the self-imposed postseason ban by former-President, James Ramsey. The decision wasn’t popular, but after time to think and console ourselves, it became clear that the self-imposed punishment was the right thing to do, right? Wrong.

See, cooperating with the NCAA, unlike some schools (looking at you, UNC), seemed to be the best move to make. You get pulled over by a cop and maybe they let you off easier than originally thought. However, if you spit in that cops face, the same way UNC has repeatedly spat in the face of the NCAA, you could get dragged to jail or god forbid something worse. The logic is sound. Cooperation and respect are more kindly responded to than immaturity and insults. Sadly, even after Louisville came down on itself with the strong hand of justice, the NCAA didn’t care. The NCAA punishment that was widely thought to be a slap on the wrist compared to the self-imposed punishment of the university, exceeded all expectations. The NCAA decided to make even more of a spectacle of an event that nearly everyone wanted to see simply halt in an accepting punishment by both parties by punishing Louisville’s basketball program with a 5-game suspension for Rick Pitino starting with conference play, hits to recruiting and scholarships, and a fine, but none of those were surprising to anyone. The last punishment the NCAA decided to hand down is the one that crossed the line for everyone in the nation, except those classy people 60 miles East. The NCAA decided to vacate all games impacted by ‘ineligible’ players from December 2010-July 2014. The games potentially impacted by this are unclear, but what is clear is that the 2013 Title could be in jeopardy.

Louisville has 45 days to send the NCAA the players they found to be ineligible. Why not just tell the university who it is? Despite many legal professionals with their degrees from Twitter, I doubt the NCAA is trying to play the parent role to a child that screwed up so he/she learns his lesson. Instead, I think the NCAA is stuck in the same position they’ve been in this whole time, which is trying to find concrete evidence in a case where none has been found. The NCAA is going after their first vacated NCAA Basketball Championship on the words of a prostitute that hasn’t had a single consistency in her story since it surfaced in 2015. Which incidentally, goes perfectly with the NCAA’s notorious inconsistencies with punishing universities.

Did wrongdoing occur? Absolutely. Should the University of Louisville be punished? Of course. You won’t find a single person with a half-operating brain that will disagree with those two questions. However, there is no reason whatsoever that Louisville should be punished in a such a severe way. Louisville was told that full cooperation would soften the blow, hiring Chuck Smrt was their answer to that. Self-imposed sanctions were an additional move to give Louisville some cushion, a postseason ban was administered to meet that criteria. Louisville did everything it could have done to avoid disastrous ramifications, followed every step that was instructed, and still the NCAA decided to hammer one of the only universities in the modern era to fully cooperate with an uncooperative organization.

Now, once again I am not saying that what happened wasn’t a big deal. It was, and it is sickening to read some of the details. And do not take this as me saying anything is worse or better than the other, but of the three major scandals right now, Louisville’s is the only one viewed in such a negative, no slack given, media grabbing way. Baylor is charged with a ridiculous amount of undocumented sexual assault crimes by football players, all of which were known by the head coach and reported to the administrators, nothing was done. UNC is on trial for academic fraud of about 20 years, a fake curriculum known by coaches, administrators and professors, nothing has been done. Now look at the major differences in the three cases (once again, not comparing severity). Louisville cooperated with NCAA upon receiving information of wrongdoing, unlike Baylor and UNC. And most importantly, Louisville’s higher ups had absolutely ZERO knowledge of what was happening, that has been proven and even accepted by the NCAA, while UNC and Baylor both had administrators sweeping their messes under the rugs. Cruel, unusual, and outrageously inconsistent punishment has been handed down to a university that would be the model depicted in the encyclopedia of the NCAA next to the word: cooperation.

Anyways, the punishment didn’t just piss off the fans, but it seriously upset Rick Pitino, Tom Jurich, and interim President Greg Postel. Which prompted the decision to send this to an Appeals Committee, where I fully believe this will be corrected. If I’m wrong, which I very well could be, Louisville will likely take the next step and send this entirely overdrawn process to court. I find it hard to believe that the NCAA’s justification for this punishment being their own definition of what’s moral and what is not, rather than their own bylaws, will ever hold up in a court of law. I also don’t see a way that a $2000 transgression turns into a $25 million charge against the University.

Now that my opinion on the punishment is out there, I will close up with a message to the fans and those who just cheer when the theoretical scoreboard is in their favor. This all started in 2015, if you jumped ship then, don’t jump back on once this is over. If you rescended your fandom once the decision for punishment was published, stay in the lane of spineless piss ants you sent yourself to. If you wavered in fandom at any point or find yourself in one of the first two categories I described, stay away from the facilities, athletes, and any and all Louisville gear, we as fans simply don’t want/need you, neither does the athletic program.

I’ve been a Louisville fan since I was born, my dad gave me that gift. I’ve experienced the Kragthorpe Era, heartbreaking injuries, and losses that would cause the average sports fan to turn it in and add the additional 10 years lost from a calendar year of sports back to their life span. No matter the season, number of wins or losses, or the trash talk from uneducated fans of the opposite spectrums, I will always proudly and emphatically wear my red and black to support my school. To the fans that left when the going got tough, please let the door hit you on your way out. To the fans of other teams (including the fans in blue) that have been supportive and kind during these times, it’s more appreciated than you know and the feeling will always reciprocated by us fans with respect for other humans, regardless of fandom. Last, but most certainly not least, to the Louisville faithful that remain strong during this, we will all be fine, this travesty of a punishment will be corrected, and most importantly, I’ve Got Your Back.

Now and Forever,

Go Cards!

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