LEADOFF: Remember Atlanta’s 2013 Final Four? There’s little left standing.


Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports. 

There’s little left standing from Atlanta’s 2013 Final Four. The building that hosted it is gone, and so is the championship that was won there that spring. 

The NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee on Tuesday denied Louisville’s appeal of an earlier ruling stripping the Cardinals of the men’s basketball championship they won by beating Michigan 82-76 before 74,326 fans at the Georgia Dome on April 8, 2013. 

So, less than five years later, the Dome has been imploded through no fault of its own, and Louisville’s national title has gone up in smoke, too, through much fault of its own. 

The penalty stemmed, as Mark Bradley writes, “from the strippers-in-the-dorm case, among the seamiest of college basketball’s scandals.” It’s the first time a Final Four winner has had its championship removed from the record books. 

Louisville argued that vacating 123 wins over four seasons, including the national title, was an excessive penalty, but the appeals committee’s eight-page decision noted the school’s escort sex scandal “involved serious and intentional violations, which Louisville agreed were reprehensible and inexcusable.” 

Among the penalties, Louisville was ordered to remove 2013 championship banners “displayed in public areas and any other forum” and ordered to return associated trophies or other awards to the NCAA. By Tuesday afternoon, the 2013 championship banner had been removed from the rafters of the Louisville arena,  the Courier Journal reported.

The Final Four returns to Atlanta in 2020, when the event will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Official records will simply show what happened the last time college basketball’s national title was decided in Atlanta as “vacated.”

Bradley blog: Stripping Louisville of its title is a necessary step. 

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READ ON … 

> The Hawks’ record – tied for worst in the NBA -- has taken a predictably big bite out of the team’s local TV ratings this season. Ratings for Hawks games on Fox Sports Southeast have fallen 50 percent in the Atlanta TV market from the same point last season, the largest local-market drop in the league. See story here.

> Much has changed for Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies, who came to spring training one year ago with physical restrictions and lingering concerns about an elbow injury. See David O’Brien’s report here.


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