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Fearing NCAA Penalties, Louisville Permanently Benches Brian Bowen

Photo Credit: Gregory Payan/AP Images

After several weeks of no-comments, deflections, and avowals that they were Focusing On The Upcoming Season, Louisville announced Wednesday that five-star forward Brian Bowen will not be allowed to practice or play for the Cardinals this year. The standout freshman will remain on scholarship, and Louisville will gladly release him to whatever school wants to sign him, but he will not suit up for David Padgett’s squad.


Bowen was barred from participating in team activities after the FBI announced its investigation into college basketball recruiting malfeasance, as it was revealed that Bowen’s father was involved in negotiating a $100,000 signing bonus to be financed by Adidas. An FBI indictment released on Nov. 9 loops former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino into the process, as former AAU director and agent Christian Dawkins told the feds that he personally asked Pitino to ring up Adidas executive Jim Gatto to secure the funds to pay Bowen’s signing bonus, “which Coach-2 agreed to do.” (Rick Pitino is reportedly and almost assuredly “Coach-2".)

Although Bowen was cleared by the FBI of any “investigative impediments,” the school continued to hold him out of practice and games while they carried out an internal investigation into whether his father’s purported deal would open the school up to future NCAA penalties. Through an attorney, Bowen opted for the admittedly wise Cam Newton Approach, denying knowledge of the payments. He has remained mum on the topic since that announcement at the top of the month, declining to comment on his eligibility as recently as last week.

It’s unclear right now whether Bowen will attempt to transfer or if he’ll just head off to some private training camp facility and prepare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Either way, two things remain clear: 1) Brian Bowen was absolutely a bargain, and 2) Brian Bowen—be it by his father, the NCAA and its stupid-ass amateurism, or Louisville—got absolutely shafted.

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