LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Louisville on Friday announced that it will implement a self-imposed postseason ban on its men’s basketball team for the 2015-16 campaign.
University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey said an investigation into accusations made about the basketball program determined that it was "reasonable to conclude that violations" had occurred.
Ramsey said he had been getting updates ever since the investigation was launched in October. On Thursday, he said he received an update that made it clear there were violations.
The president did not detail any information about the investigation, saying he was prohibited from releasing any information while it was ongoing. The ban would be on all conference and postseason play after the team finishes its final nine games.
"I recognize this is a significant penalty for our program. This will be a disappointment to many in the university family ..." the president said. He noted that the university will continue to cooperate with the NCAA on the resolution of this matter and will evaluate the release of further information as that investigation continues.
Ramsey assured the students, faculty and staff that the university would remain focused on their mission -- to be a strong learning institution that helps them to be successful, do good research and service.
The president said he continues to support Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, basketball coach Rick Pitino and the basketball family.
Jurich reminded reporters that, when the investigation started, he said the university would deal with the consequences if the investigation determined there was wrong doing. He said they had made such a determination and these are the consequences.
Pitino, who spoke after Jurich, discussed the difficulty he had in accepting the news.
"I've had my share of crying and didn't want to do it anymore. This has been a time of extreme pain," he said, adding that the players started hugging and their senior transfers cried once penalty was announced.
"This wasn't a team that wasn't going to make the tournament ... so this penalty is quite substantial," Pitino said.
But the coach said they would deal with it. The team will finish out the remaining nine games and go from there. He would later say he still doesn't understand why any of this happened.
The university came under fire in October after a woman released a tell-all book claiming that a former University of Louisville staffer hired escorts for players and recruits.
The book -- "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen" -- quickly flew off of shelves and was the #1 selling book under basketball on Amazon. The book is based on hundreds of journal entries and thousands of text messages kept by Louisville stripper and escort Katina Powell, the head of the escort service, and identifies the staffer as former Louisville basketball player Andre McGee, who played for the Cardinals from 2005-2009.
The NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis, was told of the internal investigation, and the university retained Chuck Smrt, of The Compliance Group, a Kansas-based firm, to help with an internal investigation.
University officials declined to answer any comments that pertained to the investigation. Smrt said, who deflected multiple questions from reporters, said they are bound by NCAA bylaws on what can be said. He confirmed to reporters that the self-imposed ban was an "institutional decision."
"The institution came to the conclusion that a violation had occurred and is taking this action," he said.
Pitino told reporters he was "kept in the dark" through much of this. He was told "just coach the team." But he said he did ask questions to some staff to see whether they were aware of anything.
Pitino said he had not read the book. But he said "none of this makes any sense to me at all."
"That's the thing I have many sleepless nights over," he said. "I still can't figure out why."
On Friday night, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, two graduate players who transferred to Louisville just to play this season, talked about the postseason ban.
"We were both hurt and devastated as soon as we heard this," Lewis said. "You know, 'cause we both feel like we don't deserve this. This team doesn't deserve this."
"I can definitely speak for the both of us and say that there's no other place in the world that we would rather go," Lee said. "No other school in the country that we would rather go to. No other coach and no other place that we would rather play for, and play with than the guys that we have right here with us."
As Lee and Lewis spoke, their teammates stood behind them in support.