FAQ: How NCAA ruling could affect UofL, Pitino

Gentry Estes

Update: The NCAA will release its ruling at 11 a.m. Thursday. Here's a look at how Louisville got here and what could await the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino.

1. What is Louisville accused of doing?

Each of the four violations were tied to Katina Powell’s well-known, scandalous assertions (yes, the NCAA referenced “striptease shows and sex acts”),  though only one of the four allegations actually had to do with Andre McGee paying strippers to perform for recruits and current players at the time (both groups were specifically addressed). And it was only McGee who was named in that one. Pitino was not named in that allegation. So there was no smoking gun that Pitino knew about McGee's actions or was directly tied to them. That’s extremely important.

Also important, however, is that Pitino was named in a different allegation for failing to appropriately monitor McGee. The other two allegations had to do with McGee not cooperating with the NCAA’s investigation and Brandon Williams (a program assistant last season who now is called a “former” employee) also not cooperating with the NCAA's investigation.

► READ MORE:  NCAA alleges Louisville committed 4 major violations

► READ MORE:  Read the NCAA allegation against U of L basketball

► READ MORE:  U of L basketball investigation | How we got here

2. About that violation for Pitino?

We get into that a little bit here. As a result of an allegation of a failure to appropriately monitor McGee, Pitino could face a suspension of up to 30-50 percent of a season. But U of L has disputed Pitino’s allegation. So that means U of L fought before the NCAA Committee on Infractions to try to make sure Pitino wasn’t punished directly. Ultimately, it will be up to the committee if Pitino is going to miss any games over this.

3. What about the NCAA title?

Well, the NCAA pointed to “at least 17 then-men's basketball prospective and/or current student-athletes, two then-nonscholastic men's basketball coaches and one then-men's basketball prospective student-athlete's friend” who received “impermissible inducements, offers and/or extra benefits” totaling “at least $5,400.”

And the timeline for that was December 2010 through July 2014.

That’s not that much money given the long stretch of time (the most McGee was found to have paid in one single instance was $660), but it’s potentially troubling for U of L that “current student-athletes” were specifically found to have taken extra benefits. By definition of NCAA rules, if you take an extra benefit, you are ineligible until restitution is made. And if an athlete is ineligible, you're not supposed to play him or her. So wins could be tainted, and that ineligibility could call into question every victory for Louisville’s basketball team from December 2010 through July 2014, including the NCAA championship.

The vacating of past victories is an inconsistent penalty used by the NCAA. U of L has argued that it doesn’t think that penalty is appropriate, but it hasn't ruled out the possibility, and neither has the NCAA.

► READ MORE:  What others’ sanctions could mean for U of L

► READ MORE:  How the NCAA recently punished 10 hoops programs

4. How much did U of L help itself by sitting out the 2015-16 postseason?

A lot. The NCAA deals in lingo like “aggravating” and “mitigating” factors in determining punishment in these infractions cases. Aggravating is bad, making the potential sanctions worse, and U of L was assigned four aggravating factors as an institution in this case, most notably for being a repeat offender (previous major violations cases for the men’s basketball program in 1957, 1996 and 1998) and that McGee “showed a willful or blatant disregard” for NCAA rules with his actions.

So U of L needed mitigating factors to help balance those out, and the suspension of last season’s team from the postseason was No. 1 among them. In listing that, the NCAA praised U of L for “prompt acknowledgment of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties.”

5. OK, so what’s the likely overall punishment?

The NCAA can stray from its own guidelines, but given Louisville’s position, those guidelines appear to call for a minimum of a “1-to-2 years” postseason ban, a fine of $5,000 and “1-to-3 percent” of the program’s budget and scholarship reductions of “12.5-to-25 percent.” There might not be more, but there could be more. The list of potential penalties – including vacating of past wins – is long in addition to these.

Individually, McGee is facing a likely show-cause penalty of up to 10 years if he wants to coach again. Williams also could face a show-cause penalty.

And Pitino? He could be suspended for “30-to-50 percent” of a season, but U of L fought that allegation.