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Rick Pitino Speaks Out Against Louisville's Self-Imposed 2016 Postseason Ban

Louisville head basketball coach reacts as he listens to University President Dr. James Ramsey's announcement that they will be self-imposing a ban on postseason play for the 2015-16 men's basketball team, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Louisville Ky.  Louisville announced the ban amid ongoing investigations into a sex scandal in which an escort alleged that a former staffer paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2016

One day after Louisville president James Ramsey announced a self-imposed ban from the NCAA tournament for the men's basketball team, head coach Rick Pitino spoke out against the entire system. 

Following Louisville's 79-47 victory over Boston College on Saturday, Pitino offered an alternative solution to punish the school without ruining the student-athletes' chances to compete for a championship, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports.

“Kill the university’s pocketbook and put it in a scholarship fund for needy kids to go to college,” said Pitino. “... We should be penalized, no question about it. But not this team. ... I think it’s wrong to penalize these kids. You hurt a lot of good people, a lot of fans. Innocent people will pay the price.”

The Cardinals, who are 19-4 and ranked 19th in the Associated Press Top 25, placed a ban on themselves Friday in light of an October report by John Barr and Jeff Goodman of ESPN's Outside The Lines. The report noted that five former Louisville basketball players and recruits admitted to attending parties on campus dorms with strippers present—allegedly paid for by former graduate assistant Andre McGee.         

The allegations against Louisville were also detailed in a book titled Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen written by "self-described former escort Katina Powell," per Barr and Goodman's report.

Pitino addressed the topic of Powell's book in his comments after Saturday's game, per Forde: “What was her motive? To hurt us and make money. Mission accomplished. ... They weren’t trying to clean up the ills of college basketball.”  

ESPN's Dick Vitale reported that Pitino, who has consistently denied his program was involved in any wrongdoing, passed a lie detector test when he was questioned about the allegations against his program.

Despite the self-imposed ban, Pitino remained supportive of Ramsey, per Forde, noting the decision actually came from athletic director Tom Jurich, with Ramsey signing off on it: “Tom is the best AD in all of athletics. We love the man, we respect the man. ... You don’t go into war without your general.”

This is undoubtedly a frustrating time for Pitino, who has to watch a quality Louisville team play out the final eight games of the regular season with no pot at the end of the rainbow. 

The Cardinals' players this year are paying the price for something that happened in the past. Pitino doesn't have to like it, but the university is doing what it feels is necessary.

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