The Louisville men’s basketball program avoided major NCAA penalties for its role in both the 2017 federal investigation into corruption in college recruiting under former coach Rick Pitino, and for additional violations that occurred under his successor Chris Mack.
But former IU assistant coach Kenny Johnson, and by extension former Hoosiers head coach Archie Miller, weren’t as fortunate.
Johnson, who Miller hired to be an assistant coach at Rhode Island in April, was handed a two-year show-cause that includes language prohibiting him from some recruiting activity. Johnson will be allowed to remain on staff as an assistant coach, but he will be barred from certain in-person recruiting activities during live evaluation periods.
A show-cause penalty essentially attaches NCAA penalties to a coach even if he or she were to move to a new school.
Johnson was an assistant under Pitino at Louisville from 2014-17, and at IU under Tom Crean from 2012-14.
“We have had a lot of history together and he leaves with our support and appreciation for a job well done,” Crean said in a statement when Johnson left IU for Louisville.
While at Indiana, Johnson helped the Hoosiers produce two top-20 recruiting classes, including a top five class in 2013. Specifically, Johnson helped Crean land several players from the East Coast including Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson and Robert Johnson.
Johnson was accused by the NCAA of arranging payments to high-profile recruit Brian Bowen’s family while at Louisville, as well as the family of another recruit. He was also accused of providing false information to the NCAA about his relationships with recruits.
Miller’s decision to hire Johnson was somewhat surprising given his role in the ongoing investigation. Johnson was fired by both Louisville in 2017 and LaSalle in 2020 after leaving Indiana.
Rhode Island announced on Thursday it was retaining Johnson as an assistant coach despite the sanctions.
“Kenny Johnson is one of the best coaches in college basketball, and we are glad he will finally be able to move forward focusing on that job,” Miller said in a release by the school. “He brings significant value to our program, both as a coach and as a mentor for the young men.”
Pitino and Mack received no punishment from the NCAA.
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