Today, Louisville’s punishment was confirmed after the school announced that they have lost their appeal to the NCAA regarding sanctions stemming from an investigation into the school’s hiring of strippers and escorts for recruits. Before going any further, this needs to be made clear. What Louisville did was despicable and they deserved severe punishment from the NCAA. The idea that the school tried to sway teenagers, who legally were children, with sex is disgusting and reprehensible.
However, the most significant punishment imposed on the Cardinals program is an utterly ridiculous one and one that Syracuse fans are all too familiar with. The NCAA ruled that all of Louisville’s wins from the 2011-12 season through the 2014-15 season are hereby vacated. This includes two regional championships, two Big East championships and, oh yeah, a National Championship in 2013.
So we are all now supposed to pretend that the Cardinals didn’t beat Michigan in the 2013 title game and that game never in fact happened. Oh wait, yes it did happen because if you choose to comb through Michigan’s record book, you will see that Michigan did in fact beat Syracuse in the 2013 Final Four, meaning they did play in the National Championship game. Oh, and would you look at that? Michingan lost the 2013 title game. To nobody apparently. And Syracuse also lost the 2013 Big East championship game to some school named VACATED.
Syracuse fans know all about the utter absurdity of vacated wins. Syracuse was forced to vacate 108 wins stemming from an investigation into the school using players who should have been academically ineligible. How many Syracuse fans out there think that Jim Boeheim isn’t one of two coaches with 1,000 career wins? As he put it on the day where he unofficially reached 1,000 wins, he sure as hell has handed out over 1,000 losses in his career.
Oh yeah. Losses. Apparently those still count. The NCAA doesn’t vacate games. They vacate wins. So the school did something wrong so we are going to pretend those games didn’t happen, but only if you won. If you lost, well, you lost while cheating, so that must stay. Syracuse’s vacated wins drops Jim Boeheim’s career win percentage by about two and a half percentage points, which is incredibly significant over the course of about 1,400 career games.
Vacated wins continues to be the NCAA’s go-to punishment but they are the ones who look foolish. Unless someone is going to show up at Rick Pitino’s door with a laser to remove his 2013 NCAA Champion tattoo, Louisville won that game. Just like Syracuse has won more than 1,000 games under Jim Boeheim. It is time to find a new punishment. One that makes sense.