Morgan & Morgan has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of former University of Louisville men’s basketball players over the NCAA taking away the Cardinals’ 2013 national title and nixing some other seasons’ successes. The players allege that the NCAA portrayed them in a false light and are seeking to restore the program’s vacated wins and national title.
The NCAA took away the program’s wins over an alleged escort scandal allegedly orchestrated by a former graduate assistant and director of basketball operations during Coach Rick Pitino’s tenure.
Getting These Players’ Good Names Back
The NCAA’s harsh ruling was the first of its kind, as no other college basketball program had ever been stripped of a national title. In addition to the vacated championship, the program lost all wins from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons, and repay the NCAA nearly $600,000 in tournament payouts from the seasons in question.
The NCAA issued its ruling without naming any of the players allegedly involved in the escort scandal, and made it seem as if every player at the program was involved. The plaintiffs dispute that assertion.
“We’re here today to get back what was wrongfully taken,” Morgan & Morgan founder John Morgan said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “We’re here to reinstate all of those wins, not just some of those wins. But more than that — we are here today to get these players’ good names back.”
The complaint named five former Cardinals as plaintiffs — Luke Hancock, the 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player; current NBA player Gorgui Dieng; Stephan Van Treese; Tim Henderson; and Michael Marra.
Morgan & Morgan attorneys John Morgan; Michael Morgan; Bernard Mazaheri; Jonathan Rabinowitz; Shea Conley; and Keith Mitnik are representing the players along with co-counsel Shawn Freibert and James Ellis.
What Does the Complaint Allege?
The primary allegation in the complaint is that the NCAA portrayed members of the Louisville men’s basketball team in a false light. The NCAA asserted that all the players from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons participated in the escort scandal and those actions led to the NCAA’s decision.
The plaintiffs say they did not engage in any of the behaviors alleged by the NCAA, and that by making a blanket claim that all players on the team engaged in such activity, the NCAA portrayed the plaintiffs in a false light.
“I have to live with this everyday. I'm involved with the right things and do the right thing,” Hancock said. “I’m excited that Morgan & Morgan has partnered with us and is going to represent us, because enough is enough.”
The complaint also alleges that the NCAA broke its promise to work for the benefit of student-athletes, committed a breach of contract by vacating the wins and awards of players who maintained eligibility the entire time they played for the school, and was negligent in handling the matter because it involved criminal activity and the NCAA has no jurisdiction to investigate and punish people for criminal acts.
Additionally, the complaint alleges the NCAA caused damage to the plaintiffs by stripping them of the status and rights that come with winning a national title and Most Outstanding Player award, and impaired the plaintiffs’ ability to use their property, which in this case are the wins, championships, and individual awards mentioned in the complaint.
“I have to live with this everyday. I’m involved with the right things and do the right thing,” Hancock said. “I’m excited that Morgan & Morgan has partnered with us and is going to represent us, because enough is enough.”
“What has the NCAA done? There was a team of 12 or 15 individuals... coming there and accusing all of them with one paint brush that they’re all adulterers. That’s unconscionable,” Mazaheri said.
The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration from the NCAA clearing them of any wrongdoing and to have the program’s wins and national title reinstated.
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