Members of the Louisville men's basketball team that won the 2013 national title have criticized the NCAA for its ruling Tuesday to have the championship vacated, though they say it won't change what the Cardinals accomplished.
"I don't care that much about the perception," Luke Hancock, the 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, told ESPN. "And I don't think it changes that much. We won those games. It's not like that never happened."
"It's dumb," former player Kevin Ware added. "At the end of the day, the mistakes that Andre McGee made didn't have to do with us. The NCAA is a joke."
Still got this fat ass ring which means my guys definitely won a chip, if I'm not mistaken of course.
— Kevin Ware (@AirWare5) February 20, 2018
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled Tuesday that Louisville must vacate records in which players competed while ineligible during the 2011-12 through 2014-15 seasons -- forcing the school to vacate its 2013 national championship, earned with an 82-76 win over Michigan.
The panel found that McGee, Louisville's former director of basketball operations, acted unethically when he arranged stripper parties in which sexual acts occurred involving players and recruits.
"None of that stuff was going on in 2013," added Ware, who suffered a gruesome broken leg in the Cardinals' victory in the Elite Eight.
Hancock, who works for a financial firm in Louisville and hosts a radio show for 93.9 ESPN, said that he and many of his teammates from the national championship team had been communicating through a group text after hearing that the NCAA had denied the school's appeal.
Hancock and the other players said they had yet to speak with former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who was fired by the school before this season because of the program's involvement in an FBI investigation.
"I've been preparing for it because I know the record on appeals," Hancock said. "But it still kind of blindsided me."
"Disappointing? Yes," he added. "But they can't take away the experience. And they can't look at it as if it never happened, because we won those games."
"I'm not really hurt by it," former Cardinals player Chane Behanan said. "I don't need accolades to define who we were and what we accomplished."
"Our legacy is going to live on," added Wayne Blackshear, who started 34 games in 2013. "They can take the banner down, but they can't take away what we did."
As for Michigan coach John Beilein, he stopped short of declaring the Wolverines the 2013 champions when asked about it Tuesday.
"We didn't win it all. We lost to a great team, but we didn't win it all," Beilein said. "If some other people are going to come and say, 'Hey, you won it all. You're the champions,' then we'll take it. But I'm not going to declare that. I'm declaring that we played our tails off that entire year and we got every bit out of -- remember -- a really young team."