Former Louisville basketball star Russ Smith sent the Courier-Journal an open letter to U of L fans two days after the NCAA's Committee on Infractions issued its ruling in the Cards' case.

The ruling included a five-conference-game suspension to coach Rick Pitino and several other financial and recruiting sanctions, in addition to accepting U of L's previously self-imposed penalties. But the punishment that has received much of the attention is the decision for Louisville to potentially vacate up to 123 wins, including the Cards' 2012 Final Four appearance and 2013 national championship.

U of L plans to appeal the decision.

Here is the full letter from Smith, who was a standout guard on the 2012 and 2013 teams, with small edits for publication:

Just so the fans of U of L and the people who follow basketball know, I strongly believe the truth will come out and I still have faith the NCAA will take a closer look at the situation at hand and not penalize any of my brothers or recruits or young men who were minors at the time because of deceitful adults who had separate intentions. This is embarrassing for many of us, including our families, our close friends and our fans who saw everything we went through in order to achieve that goal.

I think the NCAA's final decision was wrong, but I understand they are in a difficult situation at hand and no decision will please everyone. But I know for sure the right one isn't vacating games. College is a place where things happen, where young adults open wrong doors and see things maybe they shouldn't see or meet people on campus who have no intentions of being a student on campus. Louisville basketball is a place where we are the face of the city, and we take pictures with many and don't ask what their profession is or what they do for a living. Maybe we should, but then again, who's to say we wouldn't be lied to? Who's to say we will be supported? My brothers and I took photos with these women because they were friends of a friend.