Scandal and Snubs: A Look at Louisville Men’s Basketball

By Elle Blincoe, Editor-in-Chief, Rosecast 

Just like how the city of Louisville has recently been drowning in flood waters, the University of Louisville men’s basketball team has been drowning in their own problems. The University of Louisville men’s basketball team is no stranger to scandal, however. In 2015-16, the team dealt with the sex scandal involving Katina Powell and her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules” that ended with a self- imposed ban from the 2016 NCAA tournament. The 2017-18 basketball season brought a new scandal: the Adidas “pay to play” scandal that would result in the NCAA taking down the 2013 National Championship banner.

The NCAA has always had a rule that said college athletes could not be paid. Adidas however, worked with several universities to bypass that rule. Adidas tried to give money to prospective players through a middle man to try to get the players to attend universities sponsored by Adidas with idea that these players would wear their products in the NBA. This scheme was meant to promote Adidas, while getting highly recruited players to play at Adidas universities.

An FBI investigation began in July with an undercover agent posing as a financial backer. The agent was supposedly facilitating a payment to Brian Bowen, a five-star prospect that had recently signed to play at Louisville. The FBI came to the university in September to conduct interviews. Just two days after the arrival of the FBI, head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were both placed on “administrative leave”.

David Padgett was quickly announced as the interim head coach. Padgett was dealt a rough hand. He was not the coach the players intended to have, and for almost a month, he had no staff. The team ended the season with a 20-13 record, which made them a “bubble team” for making it into the NCAA tournament.

Louisville did not make the tournament on the very recent Selection Sunday.

Louisville is not the only team to be snubbed, however. University of Southern California, Oklahoma State University, and University of Arizona were also disappointed by the selection. Disappointment is not the only thing connecting these teams. Each of these teams are under investigation for similar reasons as U of L with Adidas.

Beginning with the least disappointing, Arizona made the tournament, however, they were placed at a four seed. Many people regarded them as one of the most talented teams in the nation and thought they should have been seeded higher.

At least they made the tournament.

Fans of USC, U of L, and OSU were all disappointed on Sunday. Louisville’s record, while not stellar, was not awful. The team put up a good fight against number one overall team Virginia, but ultimately lost in a buzzer beater. However, Florida State and Virginia Tech did make the tournament, and both teams were defeated by Louisville twice. Oklahoma State beat Kansas, the number one seed of the Midwest region, in the regular season, and beat Oklahoma University twice. Both teams beat Oklahoma State to making the tournament. University of Southern California was perhaps the most snubbed. In the Rating Percentage Index, USC was ranked 34th. This ranking makes USC the highest-ranking team ever that was left out of the NCAA tournament ever since 68 teams got to play. They were also on 79 of the 84 bracket projections on BracketMatrix.com.

These curious snubs leave many fans wondering what exactly the criteria is to get teams into the tournament. While the NCAA can consider everything for teams to make the tournament, many people are questioning whether the tournament is the time to be making statements.

Throughout the course of the year, numerous other universities have been accused of fraud within the men’s basketball program. Fans all over the US are wondering how big this issue of fraud actually is. If all teams accused are in fact guilty, men’s basketball will change if the NCAA punishes the universities as they have this year.

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