LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The president of Louisville announced a one-year postseason ban Friday for the men's basketball team amid ongoing investigations into a sex scandal, a decision that stunned coach Rick Pitino.
President James Ramsey said an investigation revealed that violations occurred when the school reviewed allegations by an escort that a former Louisville staffer paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.
Ramsey said the ban is for all postseason tournaments, including the NCAA and the ACC tournaments. The president said he received the latest results of the investigation Thursday; the review of the allegations is continuing.
Athletic director Tom Jurich said the university wanted to deal with the findings as quickly as possible.
While it is unclear if Louisville will implement additional self-imposed penalties if its investigation uncovers more violations, the NCAA could hit the program with more sanctions.
Pitino was not consulted about the decision. He said he was "a soldier in this army, and I do what the generals say. This is a punishment I never thought would have happened this season. This is as harsh as anything I've ever seen in college basketball."
The Cardinals (18-4, 7-2 ACC) would have been a lock for a tournament berth if they had not won the league title.
Pitino, 63, has denied knowledge of allegations in a book by Katina Powell that former director of men's basketball operations Andre McGee paid $10,000 for 22 shows.
Colleges frequently self-impose postseason bans if it becomes clear the NCAA is likely to do so in the future. Critics say that such bans deal the harshest punishment to current players, many of whom might not have borne responsibility or even been present for the alleged violations, and not to administrators and coaches.
ACC commissioner John Swofford praised Louisville's decision, saying in a statement that "removing themselves from any men's basketball postseason opportunities is both proactive and significant."
Pitino said he told his players of the decision earlier in the day, a moment he called "painful." He said players hugged and cried, with graduate transfers and leading scorers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis particularly emotional because they came to Louisville this season with hopes of playing in the NCAA Tournament. This will end their college careers.
"As I told them the penalty, they all stood up and started hugging Damion and Trey as they cried," Pitino said. "It's never easy for the people that don't deserve it."