Dr. Greg Postel, interim president of the University of Louisville, said that UofL will appeal the penalties.
ATLANTA — The University of Louisville on Tuesday entered the final stages of preparation for its hearing in front of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee, set for Wednesday in Georgia’s capital city.
Interim Louisville President Greg Postel and interim athletic director Vince Tyra met with compliance consultant Chuck Smrt and other representatives from the university on Tuesday afternoon to go over their plans.
The hearing is scheduled to start early Wednesday and run through the day. It’s Louisville’s last chance to reverse the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions’ June ruling that the school must vacate up to 123 wins, including the 2013 national championship, and repay potentially millions of dollars in NCAA Tournament revenue.
“(The appeal process) has gone well,” Postel said Tuesday. “I feel like we’re well-prepared.”
The infractions process for Louisville’s current case has lasted more than two years. The NCAA’s enforcement staff in the fall of 2015 began looking into claims former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee arranged stripper parties and paid for women to have sex with players and recruits.
Postel said in October the Infractions Appeals Committee, a panel typically made up of attorneys and college and conference administrators, is expected to make its final decision sometime in January.
Tyra, who was appointed in October, has spent the past two months reading over documents to get a better understanding of the case. Postel said he was confident Tyra was caught up in time for Wednesday’s hearing.
“When you’re in the private equity world, you’re going to read a lot of documents,” Tyra said, referring to his previous business experience. “You go through a lot of legal agreements, purchase agreements, what-have-you. Certainly you have the emotion of a fan reading through (infractions documents), but I’m just trying to sort through reading about legal issues and reading about precedents and where things have been and trying to get my head around it.”
Postel was part of Louisville’s contingent at the April 20 hearing in Cincinnati in front of the Committee on Infractions. That group also included Smrt, then-athletic director Tom Jurich and then-men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, among others, and the meeting lasted nearly 11 hours.
Pitino, who was fired in October after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting ensnared the Cards’ program, won’t attend this week’s hearing. He is no longer pursuing the appeal related to his NCAA-mandated five-game suspension because he is under the impression that time has been served, though that could not be confirmed to be accurate.
Louisville focused its appeal arguments on the preservation of the 2013 title, saying the players allegedly involved would’ve been reinstated and eligible had the violations been discovered closer to the time they occurred.
The school also challenged the Committee on Infractions’ determination that the case was unprecedented and therefore its ruling did not need to follow past examples of punishments. And, Louisville argued, the COI did not account for the school’s self-imposed postseason ban and recruiting limitations in 2016.
“Precedent does not support this approach,” Louisville’s appeal documents said. “Neither does common sense or fundamental fairness. The COI’s grossly excessive vacation and financial penalties should be reversed.”
Pitino agreed last week, saying, “Those games should not be vacated, in my opinion.”
A review two years ago by the Syracuse (New York) Post-Standard found that 24 appeals out of 73 attempts were successful from 2002-15, though many of the cases saw minimal reductions of penalties.
Since then, one of two sanctioned schools successfully appealed rulings that impacted the institution. Hawaii’s men’s basketball program won an appeal earlier this year, getting its postseason ban lifted.
Louisville is hoping to make that two out of three.