BLACKSBURG, Va. -- After his team's much-needed 75-68 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon, Louisville senior guard Quentin Snider conceded it was "a relief" to see other schools implicated in the widespread FBI investigation that has rocked college basketball this year.
"It was a relief," he said in the visiting locker room. "Everything was just on us."
On Tuesday, the NCAA announced that it was upholding the ruling that Louisville would have to vacate its wins from 2011 to 2015, including its 2013 title and its 2012 Final Four appearance. The penalties came as a result of an investigation into allegations that former Louisville staff member Andre McGee arranged parties and strippers for players and recruits on Louisville's campus.
Furthermore, Louisville was also named in a recent Yahoo! report as one of several teams with a former player who allegedly received payments.
With 52.9 seconds left in the first half of Saturday's game, Louisville forward Deng Adel stepped to the free throw line while the Hokies' student section chanted "FBI! FBI!" It was a fleeting moment, and the only reminder during the game of the constant cloud now hanging over the sport.
"As crazy as it sounds, we've been dealing with adversity for quite a while here in this program," said Louisville interim coach David Padgett. "We're getting -- I don't want to say we're getting acclimated to it, but we've been through a lot of it, so we know how to handle it. We're just focused on what we need to do to win games. All of the guys in my locker room who didn't have anything to do with any of this stuff that's going on, they're just focused on what's in front of them -- and that's just trying to win these next couple of games."
Louisville had lost back-to-back games against North Carolina and Duke, and Padgett opened his postgame news conference by talking about how much the program needed that win -- not just because the Cardinals face No. 1-ranked Virginia next, but also because they "had a tough week" with the negative off-court headlines.
"It could've been very easy for our guys to just throw in the towel and say, 'it is what it is,' but they dug in, made some big plays down the stretch when we needed to, and I couldn't be more proud of the team," Padgett said.
After the game, Snider and Dwayne Sutton both insisted that they and their teammates have been able to block out the distractions. Snider said they don't bring up the FBI investigation with each other and called the court their "sanctuary."
Still, Sutton expressed sympathy toward any athletes who have been implicated in the FBI investigation.
"I just feel bad for everybody involved," he said. "It can be distracting at times, but I just want to tell everybody to keep playing. Just play basketball and have fun."