Morgan & Morgan: Put Carol Cartwright on the stand

Call Carol Cartwright to the stand.

Highly doubtful that the lawsuit being filed against the NCAA is going to reverse the action resulting in the loss of the University of Louisville’s 2013 national championship banner.  But that team was able to overcome many obstacles.

Led by Luke Hancock, who was selected as most outstanding player in the title game, the group claims the NCAA damaged their reputations and affected their potential incomes. They want the banner and wins back, along with an admission from the NCAA that they are innocent . 

The potential witnesses in this case could be interesting, ranging from Andre MeGee to Katina Powell, and possibly numerous former UofL players and coaches. However, the person one most wants to see on the witness stand in this case is Carol Cartwright, the individual who served as chairperson of the Committee on Infractions in UofL’s case.

One sees Cartwright’s fingerprints all over the draconian decision that ignored the University’s cooperation, the investigation and the self-imposed punishment. Beyond the pale, hammering the players, the school and the fan base with unprecedented penalties.

Cartwright, the first female president at Bowling Green State and Kent State universities, was a forceful advocate for women’s studies at both institutions and was later named to the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. So a case involving a group of young women would be of  special interest to her.

One suspects Cartwright, the only female member on the Committee on Infractions, was especially aggravated by the charges of stripping and possible prostitution. One also suspects that Cartwright, as chairwoman of the committee, was the individual who recommended the severe penalties which, in turn, were rubber-stamped by fellow committee members. The extent of the penalties was unwarranted.

Coincidentally, Cartwright also has been critical of conflicts of interest within the NCAA. She served as co-chair on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which was created to make recommendations following the revelations of an ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting.

Cartwright argued in an article she co-authored for the Chronicles on Higher Education that the NCAA should shift from being a membership association — with inherent conflicts of interest — to being an independent leadership organization to govern Division 1 college basketball and football.

“We concluded that the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and by extension the university presidents who lead it, cannot engineer that transformation under its current governance structure, even with the best intentions,” she wrote. The co-author was Arne Duncan, former U.S. secretary of education.

Cartwright is obviously quite familiar with the failings of the NCAA and with some possible conflicts of her own when it comes to judging accusations against a men’s basketball team. She should be required to answer some questions on the witness stand.

She has some explaining to do.

*    *    *

According to one report, the case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Olu Stevens locally. If the name is familiar, it was Stevens who was placed on probation for 90 days by the state in 2017  after accusing a prosecutor of racism and dismissing a jury.

Not the best judicial venue for a case to be considered, but it has to start somewhere. These former UofL players are no strangers to major hurdles.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.