Prior to the 2015-16 Academic Year the University of Louisville Athletics Department dubbed this season “The Year of the Fan”. There were promotions & celebrations planned that aimed to reward the Cardinal fanbase for its loyalty and contributions to the athletic department’s success. While this season is far from the “Year of the Cardinal” there are still a great many accomplishments and things to be excited about for the future.
Lately, it’s been hard to see those positives. It’s much easier to dwell on the post-season ban and coping with the fact that there will be no March Madness for Men’s Basketball this season.
Card Nation, without being presented with the evidence that created the basis for this decision, lashed out. Dr. Ramsey took the brunt of the force before Rick Pitino stepped in and subsided the pressure by insisting that was unnecessary. No matter who made the call, Tom Jurich, President Ramsey, Chuck Smrt or the NCAA the fact of the matter is……It’s over. No petition, outrage, or discourse is going to change that.
Rules were broken in the men’s basketball program and Louisville’s leadership made this decision together. The outrage only comes from a lack of transparency…a lack of transparency that exists because the NCAA doesn’t know what it’s doing (a subject for another day).
Until the time comes that the public is presented with the evidence we won’t know for sure what led the Cardinal Triumvirate to make its decision to keep UofL out of the post-season this year. What we have to trust is that Louisville’s leadership has UofL’s best interest at heart. Is it unfortunate that Damion Lee, Trey Lewis & the rest of this Louisville team won’t play in the ACC & NCAA Tournament? Is it heart-wrenching that the fan base will always wonder what kind of March run this team may have been capable of? Absolutely. Seeing the character of this group and the potential of this team is going to leave fans always wondering: “What If?”
That’s the hardest part.
Who Should You Be Angry With?
Placing blame here is easy. It wasn’t President Ramsey that met Katina Powell in a barber shop. It wasn’t Tom Jurich that snuck Katina Powell and her band of reprobates in the side entrance. It wasn’t Rick Pitino who arranged parties with the unsavory underbelly of an undesirable sub-culture of morally depraved halfwits…….THAT WAS ANDRE MCGEE.
Andre McGee went to 3 NCAA Tournaments, 2 Elite Eights. He had drinks bought for him in every bar in the city. He had the adoration of the town….and then he disgraced all of Louisville. The city, the school, the basketball program, his coaches, his parents, himself. By associating with Katina Powell he sullied himself, by associating Louisville Basketball with the “Escort Queen” he damned the platform that built his existence. Now he’s persona non grata in Louisville and toxic to anyone associated with basketball. He’ll never work in hoops again even if he doesn’t go to jail.
So if you’d like to be angry with someone, be angry with Andre McGee. We can spin our wheels on Katina Powell’s motivation to write the book, the Indiana Business Journal’s motivation to publish the book, why would a woman solicit her own daughters for sex and/or dancing, why is the NCAA flawed, etc.. But it all comes back to Andre McGee. He CHOSE to associate with this individual.
Ramsey, Jurich, Pitino
President Ramsey led and helped fund raise $1 Billion for UofL. That’s $1,000,000,000. We celebrated that last year with “The Spectacular” and the campus transformation continues along with the elevation of the school’s profile despite a series of cuts from the General Assembly and the State of Kentucky. Dr. Ramsey’s time at UofL may be coming to a close, but it isn’t because of athletics and any missteps along the way just showcase that even high performing people aren’t perfect.
Tom Jurich has led the way in athletics transforming Floyd Street and Cardinal Athletics from a one-trick pony into a tricked out Tour De Force. Jurich brought the vision of Donald C. Swain, Bill Olsen, and the administration of the early 1990s to life for Louisville Athletics. Jurich took their imagination and figured out a way to make it happen…..he executed when others couldn’t and added a series of ideas of his own. Jurich is the best athletic director in the country, Louisville fans trust him with the direction of the program.
Rick Pitino’s record speaks for itself. 6 Elite Eights, 3 Final Fours, 1 National Championship. He took over for Denny Crum and did the tough task of guiding Louisville Basketball through 4 different conferences. Pitino’s tenure spans 5 different football coach tenures. He’s won 74.7% of his games at UofL over the course of 15 years. Some of Louisville Hoops favorite sons have come from the Pitino era. This scandal may go down in history as the darkest moment in UofL Basketball history, but it wasn’t because of a lack of example or values from Rick Pitino. Andre McGee happened, it’s sad and infuriating. But there was also Peyton Siva, Damion Lee, Trey Lewis, Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Kuric….and on and on.
Overcoming a Scandal
You don’t get over something traumatic by dismantling your entire situation. It’s a step by step process. We have to fully understand the problem and to do that we have to wait for Chuck Smrt’s report. Once the public and UofL has the report the leadership can begin to make necessary changes to systems and arrange punishments for the people who actually deserve them.
There are likely going to be more tough days ahead. This process hasn’t been fun and the fans don’t deserve it. But hardship is overcome one step at a time. If Louisville Alumni, Students, and supporters believe in the skill, ability, principles and values of the people leading UofL then these things will be taken care of appropriately and the University will be improved.
The school will have to endure its black eye, but the overall mission of UofL will continue regardless. Louisville will continue to seek excellence to educate and serve its community to develop engaged citizens, leaders and scholars by applying research, scholarship and creative activity to provide engaged service & outreach to improve the quality of life locally and globally.
What Do Louisville Fans Do Now?
Demand Accountability & Transparency. The reason why everyone who cares about Louisville was so upset last Friday was because we still don’t know the details or reason why the Men’s team will not play in the post-season. We don’t know the details of the transgressions. What we do know is that at least some measure of Katina Powell’s book is true and once Chuck Smrt’s report is finalized we’ll have all the sordid details on what has been verified and led to this action.
If you loved Louisville before this scandal broke, it’s reasonable to assume that you still do. Part of caring is demanding accountability, but it’s also about supporting. And Cardinal Fans still have a lot to cheer for.
Support The Women’s Basketball Team
There will still be March Madness. The Louisville Women’s Basketball team just had their 15-game winning streak snapped by the #3 team in the country (Notre Dame). The Cards lost by 5 and even in defeat proved that UofL WBB belongs in the elite conversation. After a slow start the Cards have it going on and will lobby to host the 1st & 2nd Rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center. Regionals are expected to be in Lexington and the Final Four is set to be in Indianapolis…following this special group of ladies won’t cost you an arm & a leg and won’t take up too much of your time. Jeff Walz has something special…..and they deserve your support.
Louisville Baseball Starts Year #2 in the Nation
The Louisville Nine begin play in 9 days at Jim Patterson Stadium. The games are free and there are $1 beer and hot dogs on Fridays. Oh and Dan McDonnell has perhaps his best team yet with a host of talented and enthusiastic young ball players that Major League Baseball can’t wait to get into their organizations. Cardinal Baseball is about to begin a really exciting season that has the potential to end in a dog pile inside TD Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. You’re going to want to get in on the ground floor of this group.
Spring Football, Lacrosse, Swimming, Softball
There is a lot going on at UofL. The Louisville Lacrosse team is a blast to watch (and they’re really good btw), UofL’s Kelsi Worrell is working towards the Olympics this summer, and Softball was picked to finish 3rd in the ACC Preseason of an incredibly competitive league.
There is also Spring Football upcoming, Pro Days, the NFL Draft. The Louisville gridiron will go through the off-season with rising expectations with its returning roster and fans will want to watch how that takes shape and how the Cards are developing throughout the Spring and Summer.
There is a lot to look forward to at UofL. It might be a tough today, but we’re always measured by how we respond in times of hardship. Louisville fans should continue to back the program now more than ever. Demand accountability but pledge support.
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