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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

When U of L basketball season’s over but you’ve still got Donovan to root for.

—The ACC’s football championship game will be staying in Charlotte through the 2030 season.

—William Gay’s impressive NFL career will continue with the New York Giants.

—This story on how a preseason beach football game nearly tore the Villanova basketball team apart is fantastic.

—Deng Adel junior year highlights:

Will there be a senior year highlight video? We will find out soon enough.

—Jeff Greer presents Louisville’s grad transfer big board.

—Louisville softball got smoked by Kentucky, 8-0 on Wednesday. Not a great week for the Cards against the Cats.

—Freshman linebacker Robert Hicks is already making an impact this spring.

—Safe bet that Donovan is going to get this record.

—The CJ’s Danielle Lerner has five takeaways from the U of L women’s basketball team’s 2017-18 season.

—Chris Mack continues to make the media rounds. Here’s part one of an interview he did with WHAS’ Kent Spencer.

—Timing is everything.

—Will Ferrell interviewing Joaquin Phoenix is fun.

—Jon Rothstein’s Twitter account continues to be fascinating.

—Duke-Kansas tops the list of the five best 2018 NCAA tournament games.

—Miami’s Lonnie Walker is officially off to the NBA.

I’ll miss the hair. I won’t miss him lighting up Louisville.

—Also officially gone: Duke’s Trevon Duval and Kansas’ Malik Newman.

—Montrezl Harrell’s Simpsons shoes are awesome.

—ESPN Charlotte serves up a draft profile of Jaire Alexander.

—Charles P. Pierce of Sports Illustrated pleads with the NCAA to stop the insanity of vacating wins and titles.

In 1984, George Orwell created the concept of the unperson, someone who had been executed and of whose existence all records were erased. While we can all thank our personal lords and saviors that the “death penalty” as regards the NCAA is only a metaphor, these attempts to barber history are most akin to those old photographs from the Soviet Union in which people like Trotsky, who’d fallen out of favor, were removed from subsequent publication. But, nevertheless, and in keeping with longstanding NCAA tradition, the concept of the Vacated is both a crime against history and an extended exercise in hilarious tinpot moralism.

Consider, for example, the Vacated UCLA team that lost to Louisville in 1980. That team was coached by Larry Brown, and its title was vacated due to the fact that two of his players had received money from a booster named Sam Gilbert. It was an open secret in college basketball for decades that Gilbert was a sugar daddy cum bagman for the UCLA program, and that he functioned as such even during the reign of the saintly John Wooden. (This was the very first thing that drove the late Jerry Tarkanian into a rage at the NCAA.) Gilbert was not only a conduit for the UCLA underground athletic economy, he also was something of a crook, having been indicted on federal racketeering charges by prosecutors who were unaware that he already had died. So Larry Brown’s 1980 squad is Vacated largely for the sins of John Wooden’s program because the NCAA didn’t want to sully Wooden’s iconic memory.

Or, in another case, there are the 1997 Minnesota Golden Gophers. They lost to Kentucky in the national semifinals and then were Vacated due to a massive academic scandal in which over 400 essays were written by a basketball manager for various players in various classes. OK, but where does that leave us with North Carolina? In 2012, an independent investigation revealed that, since 1999, athletes, including basketball players, had been enrolled in “paper” classes, had committed plagiarism, and had generally committed academic fraud on a number of levels. Much of this occurred within the university’s African American studies curriculum, but athletes also skated by in a Naval Weapons class to which they were directed by their academic counselors.

The university fought the charges with remarkable vigor and then, last October, the NCAA announced that it would not be punishing North Carolina at all over what had been uncovered, claiming, very lamely, that it could not do so because the “paper” classes were open to all UNC students. In other words, the NCAA decided it could not punish UNC for academic fraud among its athletes because all students at the university could have pursued academic fraud as well. If the punishment of Minnesota were applied as precedent over the length of the scandal at North Carolina, however, the Tar Heels would have lost four appearances in the Final Four and two national championships. The Sam Gilbert precedent leads the suspicious mind to believe that the NCAA had no stomach for bringing the Hammer of Vacancy down on one of its premier gate attractions.

—Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo talks about the best programs in college basketball being after him.

—It’s crazy how impressive Damion Lee has been in his first month as an NBA player.

—U of L’s Arthur Albiero has been named one of the Team USA coaches for the Pan Pacific Championships.

—And finally, the Louisville baseball team is back in action this weekend with another huge ACC series against No. 4 NC State. Here’s a preview.