Trey Lewis announced he was transferring from Cleveland State to Louisville last April.
While doing so, he said this:
“I just want to play against the best competition [in my senior year], and my dream has always been to go to a Final Four, take a team to a Final Four. And when this situation opened up the way it did, I’ve got to thank God because He opened this door for me.”
And now that door has been slammed shut.
Not by God, of course.
But by Louisville’s administration.
And shame on them.
Louisville announced Friday — conveniently, just three afternoons before Super Bowl 50 — that it’s self-imposed a postseason ban for this season, meaning the Cards will not play in the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament while an investigation into allegations that a former staff member provided players with strippers and escorts continues.
The Cards’ season will now end March 5.
President James Ramsey said it was his decision.
His bad and terribly unfair decision.
“We looked at all of the options,” Ramsey said Friday before explaining that, after looking at all of the options, he decided to impose a postseason ban this season.
“It was certainly in the best interest of our university and program,” Ramsey added and, in fairness, he’s absolutely right about that, if only because the earlier a punishment starts, the earlier a punishment ends, and that’s clearly better for the university and program in the sense that it should help alleviate some possible hurdles with future recruiting.
But it stinks for Trey Lewis.
And it stinks for Damion Lee.
Those two fifth-year players graduated last Spring, from Cleveland State and Drexel, and had lots of great opportunities presented to them. Lewis could’ve gone to Xavier or Ohio State while Lee could’ve gone to Maryland, Gonzaga or Arizona, just to name a few. Instead, they both picked Louisville, and coach Rick Pitino recalled why Friday.
“They told me, ‘Coach we’ve never experienced the NCAA Tournament. We just want to experience it one time,'” Pitino said. “Now Damion and Trey have nothing to look forward to. They were hit over the head with a sledgehammer.”
They were also in tears Friday, according to Pitino.
Again, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. And it’s why new rules should be put in place that prohibit postseason bans — self-imposed or otherwise — once a semester begins. Any postseason ban, I think, should always be for the subsequent season once a semester begins, that way goals and dreams are never abruptly ripped from seniors midseason. Then, under my plan, after said season is completed, the seniors move on as they would’ve regardless while each player with remaining eligibility receives a waiver to transfer and play immediately elsewhere. They wouldn’t have to use the waiver, obviously; they could stay put if they wanted. But the waiver, in my plan, would be available to them, and what’s the worst thing that would happen if things were done this way?
Answer: A school might lose most, if not all, of its roster.
And do you know what that would mean?
That would mean the school would be at risk of an incredible punishment while student-athletes who almost never have anything to do with anything continue their amateur careers as they choose, and, please, tell me what’s so wrong about that.
What’s wrong with a school suffering while the innocent players do not?
Isn’t that the way things should be?
As it is, Trey Lewis and Damion Lee — two guys who were nowhere near Louisville’s campus when violations were occurring years ago — are the ones hit hardest. Because the younger Cardinals, assuming they stay at Louisville, will still likely have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament someday. And Rick Pitino, assuming he stays at Louisville, will still likely have a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament someday.
But Lewis and Lee?
It’s done for them.
They’ll never sit in front of a TV and wait for Greg Gumbel to announce where their team is heading for the Round of 64. They’ll never get to play for a spot in the Sweet 16. They’ll never be able to dream a dream that has them cutting nets on their way to a Final Four.
That so-called door was opened for Trey Lewis and Damion Lee last April.
But now it’s been slammed shut.
And President James Ramsey should be embarrassed and ashamed.