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UofL 'ready to move forward' following IARP's ruling in NCAA case

The men's basketball program faces two years probation, a fine of $5,000 and some recruiting restrictions. It escaped major penalties though.
Credit: Alyssa Newton/WHAS-TV

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An independent panel has spared the University of Louisville of major penalties from NCAA allegations leveled in the aftermath of a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball.

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) placed UofL's men's basketball program on two years of probation and fined the program $5,000. It also restricted Louisville's recruiting visits for this academic year and issued a public reprimand. 

The IARP also declined to penalize former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, whom the NCAA initially cited for failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Chris Mack, Pitino's successor who was fired in January, also was not penalized for additional allegations announced last year by the NCAA.

Former Cardinals assistant coaches Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson received two-year show-cause orders for Level I violations. The IARP concluded that Fair “was knowingly involved” in arranging a cash payment in exchange for a player enrolling at Louisville.

The IARP, created to examine complex cases, announced the decision Thursday. 


The IARP was created out of proposals from a commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform college basketball. The panel’s decision cannot be appealed.

The NCAA in May 2020 accused Louisville of committing a Level I violation for an improper recruiting offer and several Level II violations. Pitino was accused of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

It followed a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball announced in September 2017. The school acknowledged it was the subject of allegations related to the recruitment of Brian Bowen II.

Louisville had previously been placed on NCAA probation because of a sex scandal. Thursday's decision by the IARP put the latest disciplinary matter to rest for a school that has endured several scandals since 2015.

'The beginning of a new chapter.'

During a press conference on Thursday, university officials said following the IARP's ruling, they are ready to "close the book on the past."

"There's been a cloud over this program for five years now," Athletics Director Josh Heird said, calling the decision "relieving."

In a statement, men's basketball Head Coach Kenny Payne said since he took the position in March, his focus has been on his players. He said that he's grateful the investigation is coming to a close.

"With this matter behind us, we are only looking ahead as we help our student-athletes achieve their dreams and build this program to the level in which our community can take pride," he said.

Heird said recruitment has been difficult for the program since the allegations and investigation began.

"Coaches are highly competitive, they're gonna use every advantage they can get," he said. "We were at a competitive disadvantage and other programs tried to take advantage of it."

Interim University President Lori Stewart-Gonzalez said she is hopeful the IARP's ruling will help move UofL forward.

"Now we're ready as a program and a university to put the past behind us and move forward," she said. "Going forward, our fans should expect a winning program and a winning culture." 

Read the university's response:

“With the IARP decision announced today, the five-year process involving the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program has now come to an end. We are grateful to the members of the panel, led by Chairman Benck, who were fair and deliberate and who ultimately supported many of our robust arguments. While the IARP process provided the opportunity for our case to be heard by an objective panel, a five-year process is much too long. The process left the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program in limbo and created significant competitive disadvantages. When allegations in this matter first came to light several years ago, the University took these allegations seriously and acted immediately, enacting several sweeping changes to strengthen our policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again. For our University, the Louisville community, our men’s basketball program and our passionate fans, today marks the beginning of a new chapter and we are only looking forward.”

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