Rooting for the Louisville Cardinals is a foreign concept for many of us. We’re not RIVALS per se, but we’re certainly not fans of UL given our recent athletic history versus one another. And it was tough to shed too much of a tier when the NCAA came after them in 2017 — not because we side with the NCAA, but because as Syracuse Orange fans, it seemed like a way to erase the frustrating basketball losses to the Cards (in our minds, anyway).
With all of that said, I’ll be rooting for Louisville in court now, and most Syracuse fans should be doing the same.
Former Cardinals players have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over its vacation of the 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four. Luke Hancock is leading the charge, but the suit also includes former players like Gorgui Dieng, Tim Henderson, Stephan Van Treese and Mike Marra.
From the sound of it, they don’t even want money from the NCAA. Rather, they’re just looking to restore the important wins and the title that the players still hold claim to because they were there. They played the game, cut down the nets and still own the rings. Hancock simply wants re-validation from the NCAA that the honors stand. However, that might take an invalidation of the NCAA’s abilities within college athletics. One of the players’ attorneys in the case, John Morgan, put it pretty bluntly:
“We are used to fighting giants. In the sports world, I don’t think there is any Goliath that exists like the NCAA. The NCAA is a giant, but the NCAA is a morally bankrupt organization that has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged young people throughout our country. They answer to nobody but are bad for everybody.”
One would assume that getting those big wins back probably means getting the smaller ones back as well. Former Louisville coach Pitino was stripped of 123 victories via the NCAA’s ruling. If the court deems that the NCAA can’t perform this fictional exercise as they have been for decades, that would likely apply to all similar cases.
Without getting into the fact that Louisville’s misdoings far outweighed the Orange’s when they received their respective NCAA penalties, any restoration of wins here would extend to Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim as well. You’re well aware that Boeheim’s won more than 1,000 basketball games, even if the NCAA claims the number is 926. Should the Louisville players win here, it means the record book should have to reflect the real number once again.
Like the Louisville players, we remember all of the great games despite what the NCAA says. But still, it’s only fair that they acknowledge SU’s 2006 Big East Tournament run, the 2012 team, and parts of 2010-11 (you guys can keep 2004-05 if you also take the Vermont game with you).
There’s no telling what the timeline on this looks like, or whether Hancock and his fellow players can earn a win. However, the results will mean a lot for Syracuse and other schools who’ve had to go through the ridiculous motions of having wins and/or titles forfeited over the years. So for that, I’m rooting for the players.
(and hey, maybe this could mean we finally find out what happened to the 1990 men’s lacrosse championship trophy, too)