Rick Pitino

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has lost his 2013 NCAA title, according to the misguided NCAA committee on infractions.

Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader

Dear NCAA: It happened. You can't decide it didn't.

The NCAA infractions appeals committee upheld sanctions against Louisville's basketball program, including vacating the Cardinals' 2013 national title and 2012 Final Four appearance. The committee also upheld stripping the program of 123 victories. An investigation by the NCAA's enforcement division alleged that a Louisville assistant coach provided strippers and prostitutes for players and recruits.

Yes, it’s distasteful, and yes, the school should be punished. But taking away championships and wins is dishonest, because the NCAA doesn’t intend that punishment to be symbolic. In these cases, the committee on infractions also orders their records removed from NCAA record books. Also, the school is required to remove them, too. Banners are ordered taken down. Trophies are ordered to be removed.

Then-Louisville coach Rick Pitino famously got a tattoo to celebrate that 2013 championship. The committee on infractions isn’t ordering him to remove it — and I’m not completely sure the committee realizes it doesn’t have the power to do that.

As if it all never happened.

But it did, and it’s wrong to say, “We’re going to pretend all those wins never happened. We order all of college basketball to pretend, too. La la la la la la, we can’t hear you if you’re going say they actually did.”

Pitino should’ve been fired — and he was. Schools should face sanctions, including fines — and Louisville is. Those victories should be stained — and they are.

But they happened, whether the NCAA committee on infractions says it did or not.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.