Regardless of what the NCAA says, the 2013 Louisville team will always be Donovan Mitchell's national champion.
The Utah Jazz player weighed in the decision made by the NCAA to vacate the Cardinals' title after an appeals panel upheld sanctions against the program in a sex-scandal case.
Mitchell tweeted out this strong message of support to his college on Tuesday morning:
"You can take away the banner but you can’t take away the long hours in the gym the incredible wins the passion that this team played with! They were an inspiration to young athletes including myself!! Go ahead take away the banner but we all know who won in 2013 #L1C4"
You can take away the banner but you can’t take away the long hours in the gym the incredible wins the passion that this team played with! They were an inspiration to young athletes including myself!! Go ahead take away the banner but we all know who won in 2013 #L1C4✊ pic.twitter.com/7Xaj9LkbuR— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) February 20, 2018
The #L1C4 hashtag stands for: "Louisville first, Cards forever." Mitchell played for Louisville from 2015-17, which was after improprieties allegedly happened at the school. The 6-foot-3 guard, who won the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk contest this past weekend, earned 2017 All-ACC honors before making himself eligible for the draft following his sophomore season.
Louisville interim president Dr. Greg Postel agrees with Mitchell's stance.
“I cannot say this strongly enough: We believe the NCAA is simply wrong,” Postel said in a statement, which the Associated Press received. “We disagree with the NCAA ruling for reasons we clearly stated in our appeal. And we made a strong case — based on NCAA precedent — that supported our argument.”
As detailed on the NCAA's website, Louisville must vacate its men's basketball records from 2011-12 through 2014-15 because the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee upheld a previous ruling. It was deemed that because ineligible players competed for then-coach Rick Pitino's program Louisville must also return NCAA money received through conference revenue sharing for four NCAA tournament appearances during that time.
From the NCAA:
"In the Committee on Infractions’ decision, the panel found that a former Louisville director of basketball operations acted unethically when he committed serious violations by arranging striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with the investigation. The violations in the case resulted in some men’s basketball student-athletes competing while ineligible.
"In its appeal, the university argued the vacation of records and financial penalty should be set aside because they are excessive. The university contended that the penalties were based on participation of student-athletes who were not culpable in the violations, received negligible benefits as a result, and for whom reinstatement would likely have been granted.
"The Committee on Infractions responded to the appeal by stating the penalties were appropriate due to the serious, intentional and numerous violations orchestrated by a university staff member for nearly four years. It further argued that student-athletes do not have to be culpable for the vacation penalty to be appropriate, and because the serious nature of the violations resulted in the participation of ineligible student-athletes, the vacation of records penalty was appropriate."