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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this April 8, 2013, file photo, Louisville center Zach Price (25) holds signage after Louisville defeated Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville officials are not happy with the NCAA's decision that mandates the school vacate its 2013 men's basketball championship after a sex scandal.

While acknowledging the scandal was unacceptable, Louisville interim President Greg Postel believes the school's cooperation should have counted for more than it did. But Tuesday, Louisville announced that an NCAA appeals panel had upheld sanctions against the men's program.

As a result, the Cardinals have to vacate not only the championship but also 122 other victories and return $600,000 in conference revenue from the 2012-2015 NCAA Tournaments.

"I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong," Postel said Tuesday. "We disagree with the NCAA ruling for reasons we clearly stated in our appeal. And we made a strong case -- based on NCAA precedent -- that supported our argument."

The decision by the governing body's Infraction Appeals Committee ruled that the NCAA has the authority to take away championships for what it considers major rule violations. It also refuted Louisville's position that the NCAA exceeded its boundaries and didn't follow its own precedent established in other cases, according to an eight-page decision that upheld the penalties.

Louisville now must forfeit its third NCAA title, victories and income from 2011-2015, part of the time frame during which the violations occurred. The decision is the culmination of the NCAA's investigation that followed allegations in a 2015 book by escort Katina Powell that former Cardinals basketball staff member Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits.

Former coach Rick Pitino repeatedly has denied knowing about the activities described in Powell's book.

Besides taking down the red-and-white banner that hung beside the American flag and two other title flags in the Cardinals' downtown arena, Louisville must erase wins before and after that championship along with other records.

That process started almost immediately. Basketball spokesman Kenny Klein confirmed by Tuesday evening that both the 2013 title and 2012 Final Four banners were removed from the rafters at the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville's compliance throughout the process was followed by Postel's defiant tone addressing the decision.

"From Day One, the university has admitted that the actions of the former operations director and any others involved under previous leadership were offensive and inexcusable," Postel said in his statement. "That is why we apologized immediately, cooperated fully with the NCAA, self-imposed penalties that were appropriate to the offenses and made significant changes to ensure incidents like this never happen again.

"Under the NCAA's own rules, this cooperation should have been a factor in the severity of the punishment. Instead, it was ignored."

The school's own investigation into the allegation revealed that violations occurred and resulted in a self-imposed postseason ban nearly two years ago. Louisville later imposed scholarship and recruiting restrictions in an effort to mitigate further NCAA discipline.

While the NCAA accepted Louisville's actions, it went further with harsher sanctions in June that included:

• A five-game suspension of Pitino, who was fired in October after Louisville's acknowledgement it was being investigated in a federal bribery probe of college basketball.

• Four years' probation, along with the vacation of those wins and appearances in the 2012 and 2013 Final Fours.

• Show-cause penalties for McGee, who is no longer coaching.

Michigan lost to Louisville 82-76 in the 2013 national title game, but the Wolverines will not be named national champions. Coach John Beilein said he is not about to claim it for his own program.

"We didn't win it all. We lost to a great team. If someone else wants to come and say, 'Hey, you won it all, you're the champion.' We'll take it," Beilein said Tuesday. "But I'm not going to declare that. I'm declaring that we played our tail off that entire year and got every bit out of what was, remember, a really young team. Freshmen and sophomores all over the place."

Interim Louisville coach David Padgett said he talked to his team about the announcement and texted several former players from that title squad, reminding them of their achievement.

"This doesn't change what you did. You won 16 games in a row, you went 35-5 and cut down the nets in Atlanta," Padgett said he told former players. "You don't need a banner to know you're a national champion."

Padgett is part of the many changes at Louisville in the months after the NCAA penalties. Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave and former AD Tom Jurich on paid administrative leave Sept. 27 after the school's involvement in the FBI probe that initially involved the arrests of 10 people. Padgett has taken over the men's program.

Information for this report was contributed by The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press.

Sports on 02/21/2018

Print Headline: Louisville vacates 2013 national title

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