Literally. Louisville Basketball is fearing what is often referred to as the “death penalty” for the program as the FBI investigations continue, the repeat-violator legislation and worst sentence the NCAA has on hand which usually means a ban from competition of at least one season, if not more. I’m sure the NCAA is tired of the bad publicity (though Louisville only revealed their problems), and really they don’t deserve the be off the hook at all. Multiple assistant coaches are being accused of making multi-thousand dollar payments to relatives of recruits across the board for the program.
The “death penalty” has happened before: SMU Football, who was in a similar situation, was axed in the 80s when investigations found the program so riddled with corruption that the penalty had to be used. The full sentence was not carried out: had that happened, they wouldn’t have played from 1987 until 1989, amongst other worst-case punishments. However, the 1987 season was canceled and the four scheduled home games in 1988 were also eliminated. The committee said that they felt the disciplines were fully necessary because of “a program that was built on wrongdoing, deceit, and rule violations”. Only conditioning drills were allowed during the 1987 calendar year, and an existing ban on televised games and bowl games was extended to 1990. In addition, absolutely no off-campus recruiting was allowed until the August of 1988. You can read more on the scandal here, but the penalty was at the root of a twenty-year span in which SMU had just one winning season and no bowl selections until 2009. It’s widely considered one of the worst NCAA infractions and disciplinary actions to date.
“We’re looking at the death penalty, no question about it. … We’re in serious trouble.
–Jerry Eaves, former U of L player (1978-1982)
No one knows what will happen to Louisville, but we all know that the potential for it to be drastic is very, very high. Bleed blue.