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What does Louisville’s vacated 2013 championship really mean?

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Absolutely nothing.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville Press Conference Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you’ve heard the news. The Louisville Cardinals will have to vacate the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, along with a slew of other wins from 2011-15, as punishment for the program’s involvement in an escort sex scandal.

Louisville is the first NCAA men’s basketball program to lose a title, and people are making a big deal about that.

But really, why are we bothering with the charade at this point?

And if you’re a Syracuse Orange fan, hopefully you’re not celebrating this just because the Cards are a conference rival.

SU self-reported its own (less severe) violations and got hammered by the NCAA not too long ago following a lengthy investigation into the men’s basketball program. Some of those penalties were rolled back. But Jim Boeheim still lost over 100 wins to the ether. Some pretty fun moments were supposedly deleted from your memory. According to the NCAA, Syracuse cheated. And for that, not only would we have to endure the meaningless act of removing wins. Syracuse would also have to deal with the ACTUAL penalties of scholarship reductions (something that still affects the program right now).

If you believe that the Orange and Boeheim were wronged, then you believe that Louisville was too. Same goes for USC football. And of course, Syracuse lacrosse’s missing 1990 national championship trophy.

You still count that championship among Syracuse’s collection, no? And Jim Boeheim’s win total? That’s proudly displayed and updated with each game during the season here on the blog and in other corners of the web, too. You’re a fan of that, right?

Well then Louisville, even with greater potential wrongdoing, was still slighted by the NCAA here. Also, the stripped trophy doesn’t matter anyway.

As I’ve long said, they’re not taking your t-shirts or commemorative DVDs or hats. They can’t erase your memories. We should’ve just played Fab Melo in 2012 (and given how close we were to the Jared Sullinger-led Ohio State Buckeyes in that Elite 8 without him, the reasoning for doing so becomes even more clear now).

Also, accepting any sort of punishment from the NCAA as legitimate is recognizing a toothless organization. The NCAA’s long been inconsistent and questionable in its governance, finances, punishments and more. Letting North Carolina walk was a farce, just as its penalties for Syracuse and Louisville and others. Bringing the hammer down on USC football was just as idiotic as letting Penn State go free after two years of “good behavior” after decades of potentially protecting a child molester.

To recognize the NCAA’s lack of relevance or power, you can’t single out the moments you want to praise them, though. Or pick and choose what you despise. With the NCAA and its ineffectual policing of college sports, you just have to ignore what they say good or bad and push for change.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Oregon vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The reckoning may not be far off either, for Mark Emmert and much of the rest of the NCAA’s big wigs. An FBI investigation started digging into widespread corruption in college basketball last offseason. Last week, it was hinted that the full scope had the chance to rock the entire sport, from the top on down. Those precious sponsors, like the sportswear companies (Adidas in particular) were a big part of what’s happened. And it all happened under Emmert’s watch.

If we’re applying the lens that the NCAA applies to organizations that exhibit corruption outside of the coach or athletic director’s line of sight, then the guy in charge is still in trouble.

But that doesn’t mean it’s just Emmert. Whatever happens with this FBI report and any charges that come of it, the entire NCAA construct needs to be taken to task for what occurred. And then, if there are people in college athletics truly dedicated to bringing about change that’s to the benefit of the athletes, we’ll go ahead and scrap the whole damn thing.

The current rules say recruits shouldn’t be compensated. But should the rules state that in the first place? Sure, take Emmert and co. to task for failing to enforce their own rules, draconian as they are. However, their ouster should more be due to their slowed or inaction to the pressing issues that affect every athlete and every school in its membership.

The NCAA, as it’ll likely end up in the coming years, does not matter. Its penalties don’t matter, just like its championships don’t either. So taking away a title from an organization that bestows its own importance on itself shouldn’t even make fans (or schools) bat an eye — especially when the NCAA is still selling championship gear on its website anyway.

UCF, to a much lesser extent this winter, proved how fragile the whole structure is by just going and claiming a championship following an unbeaten season. We jokingly grasped at the 1987 football title as well, just because we could.

You see what I’m saying at this point. NONE OF THIS MEANS ANYTHING. And as long as the NCAA’s around in its current form, it can’t mean anything.

As much as you’d love to find a way to claim the 2013 Big East title (which we lost to Louisville), or wriggle into the 2013 national championship (not without changing the referees and charge rules), this isn’t a time to celebrate something happening to a rival. Rather, it’s a chance to point how just how much all of this is a sham. The NCAA is powerless. The Cards won that title, just like Boeheim’s won those 1,022 games.

Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, this is a reality based in facts. You can’t tell me I didn’t see something when there’s video evidence. Unless the NCAA is going to change that and your memories too, the punishment is in words alone.