Josh Heird wants closure on the NCAA’s investigation into Louisville men’s basketball. He wants a positive outcome.
The U of L athletic director said Thursday he expects the former to come “sooner than later.”
As to the latter, Heird has no expectations.
The previous set by other cases being handled by the NCAA’s soon-to-be-defunct Independent Review and Accountability Process indicates that Louisville’s ruling in its alleged infractions case should be coming in the relatively near future.
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And the punishments doled out in recent cases indicate a reluctance on the NCAA’s part to punish current players for rules that were broken in the past.
But Heird knows previous in NCAA cases can be tricky.
“I ask myself that probably every day, is it wishful thinking or do we really feel good about the decision that we’ll presumably get here in the near future?” Heird said Thursday after a speech to the Rotary Club of Louisville at Joe’s Palm Room. “And there’s no way to tell. The variables in each of the cases are different.”
The most significant difference in Louisville’s case — which stems largely from alleged violations in the recruitment of former five-star prospect Brian Bowen — is that the U of L men’s basketball program is what the NCAA considers a “repeat offender.”
The alleged violations under review took place under coaches Rick Pitino and Chris Mack. None involve first-year head coach Kenny Payne.
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But the violations currently under review occurred while Louisville was on probation for the Minardi Hall stripper scandal, a complication that didn’t apply in recent IARP judgments for violations at NC State and Memphis.
Neither of those schools received a postseason ban from the IARP.
But the repeat offender variable could render those previous less meaningful.
“I think that’s the glaring difference as you try to compare,” Heird said. “But I have no idea. I have no idea. I just want it behind us. I want our program to move forward. I want Kenny and his program to be able to move forward, put this behind us and just make sure that we never have to deal with it again.”
The reasonable expectation is that no matter the decision, it’s coming soon.
Soon is a relative term, given that the investigation and review recently moved into their sixth year. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York revealed the bribery scheme behind U of L’s recruitment of Bowen on Sept. 26, 2017.
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In both the NC State and Memphis cases, the gap between the IARP’s hearing and ruling was a little more than four months. Given that Louisville’s hearing was in mid-June, that timeframe would indicate a decision any day now.
Heird told the Rotary Club on Thursday that the timetable isn’t exact and, “it could be a month, it could be six months from now.” But he’s expecting a ruling soon.
And he’s anxious to have it.
Both NC State and Memphis received probation but no postseason ban in recent cases handled by the IARP, a process established in 2019 for “reviewing select complex offenses cases,” according to its website, but which the NCAA announced this summer will be dissolved after adjudicating its current cases.
Louisville is hoping for a similar outcome but above all ready to have a resolution.
“The one thing that makes college basketball special (is) the differentiater — it’s the tournament,” Heird said. “And so until we know exactly what the penalties are, there’s going to be people out there saying (to recruits), ‘Hey, if you go to Louisville, you won’t get the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.’ That’s a dig. And so, once we know what the results are, I absolutely think that it’ll be full steam ahead moving forward with Kenny and the program.”