The University of Louisville announced new sanctions on its men’s basketball program on Wednesday.
The penalties limit recruiting activities and reduce scholarships for the program, which is under NCAA investigation over allegations that former staff member Andre McGee hired an escort service to provide strippers and sex to recruits and players.
The school will take away two scholarships — one in 2017-18 and one in 2018-19 — and one official visit for each of the next two seasons, according to a statement issued by the office of President James Ramsey. U of L is also cutting 30 recruiting days this year, an overall 24 percent reduction.
The statement said the decision to impose further sanctions was “collaborative” and included input from U of L attorney Steve Thompson, investigator Chuck Smrt, Athletics Director Tom Jurich, Coach Rick Pitino and an investigative committee established by the university to help oversee its internal inquiry into the allegations.
“After much deliberation, the university believes that self-imposing these penalties is appropriate,” Thompson said in the statement. “While the university could elect to wait until the infractions process is complete, those consulted agree that these penalties are consistent with NCAA legislation, and imposing these penalties now is the right thing to do and may advance the university’s goal of expediting resolution of this matter.”
U of L also said it would add new oversight measures to the men’s basketball program, although it did not provide details.
“These additional measures will be designed to promote communication and transparency, prevent future violations before they occur, and make clear to the university community that violations of NCAA legislation will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
The new penalties come after U of L self-imposed a ban from both the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments this season.
In February, Ramsey acknowledged that U of L’s internal investigation into the allegations had revealed at least one NCAA violation. The university has said the self-imposed sanctions could help resolve the NCAA investigation sooner.
A U of L spokesman said it would have no further comment on the new sanctions.
During a news conference in February, Pitino called the postseason ban “harsh.”
“This is a punishment I thought would never happen this season,” he said. “This is a decision that’s as harsh as anything I’ve seen. But I’m a soldier in this army, and I’ll go along with Dr. Ramsey, and there’s no one in life I have more respect for than Tom Jurich.”
In the statement issued Wednesday, Ramsey said he continues to support Jurich and Pitino.
The allegations stem from a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” in which Katina Powell alleges she provided escort services to the men’s basketball program from 2010 to 2014. She claims she brought escorts into Billy Minardi Hall, the players’ dorm, to dance for and perform sex acts with players and recruits.
Pitino has maintained since the allegations first arose last fall that he had no knowledge of any of the alleged activities.