Louisville's vacated national title has become the subject of a lawsuit against the NCAA by a group of former Louisville basketball players wanting the organization to reverse its decision against the Cardinals in 2013.
Former Louisville captain Luke Hancock and four men who played with him on the 2012-13 team are seeking to have the championship and associated wins and other accolades restored, Reuters reported. The NCAA stripped Louisville of the title and more than 100 wins in the wake of the investigation into the school's scandal regarding paid escorts and basketball recruits.
The five men also want a court to, in effect, restore their reputations. The plaintiffs - Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson, Gorgui Dieng and Michael Marra - are seeking "a declaration that they are completely innocent of any wrongdoing as implied by the NCAA," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Jefferson (Ky.) Circuit Court.
"We are used to fighting Goliath every single day," the plaintiffs' attorney, John Morgan told reporters Wednesday. "In the sports world I don't think there is any Goliath that exists like the NCAA."
Morgan said the former players want the court to order the NCAA to reinstate the 2013 national championship to make a public declaration that the players "did not engage in striptease dances, prostitution and tipping of strippers as implied by the Defendant (NCAA)."
Hancock, who won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 2013, told reporters he is constantly asked about the incidents involving strippers in the campus dorm, although he took no part in it.
The university and ousted basketball coach Rick Pitino are not participants in the lawsuit.
"We understand the frustrations and empathize with our former student-athletes," Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra told the Courier Journal in an email. "These young men expended a great deal of effort and came together as a group to accomplish something very rare and special. Our university invested significant resources to oppose the vacation of records penalty and engaged the nation's top appeals attorney in our defense. While we were unsuccessful and emphatically do not agree with the decision, we are obligated at this time as a member of the NCAA to abide by the ruling and have complied accordingly."
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