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Friday, October 20, 2017

College Basketball

Louisville president says Tom Jurich kept school in dark with Adidas deal

Louisville interim president Greg Postel filed an official letter on Monday placing athletic director Tom Jurich on paid administrative leave, and the list of grievances against Jurich paint a picture of a shady deal that was worked out with Adidas.

According to Andrew Wolfson of the Courier-Journal, Postel wrote that Jurich recently worked out a $160 million contract extension with Adidas “without timely or appropriate consultation with me or members of U of L Athletic Association Board.” Postel also told reporters he had no knowledge of the new deal until it was complete.

“It would have been nice to know more about the agreement beforehand,” the university president said Monday.

Postel ordered Jurich last spring to start attending meetings with Louisville’s board of trustees after a powerful booster complained that the AD wasn’t listening to input from the board.

“You are the vice president of athletics and an administrator of the university,” Postel wrote in his letter. “Your contract requires you to perform your duties in an exemplary fashion, to demonstrate adherence to all state, federal and local laws and ordinances.”

Adidas is scheduled to provide $160 million to Louisville over the next 10 years, $79 million of which would be in cash. Postel would not rule out that the money from the deal has now been tainted due to the recent fraud and corruption scandal, noting that the university has to “study it.”

Postel’s letter to Jurich on Monday came in the wake of some big-money donors writing the president a letter outlining why Jurich, who has been Louisville’s AD for 20 years, should stay.

Louisville was one of several universities named in an FBI investigation alleging that a top Adidas executive paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to funnel top recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs. Adding more intrigue to the situation, Jurich’s daughter apparently has a role with the school that could raise some red flags.

Company pauses Sean Miller ads amid FBI investigation

Sean Miller

An Arizona financial institution paused its advertisements featuring Sean Miller amid an FBI investigation that has implicated one of Miller’s University of Arizona assistant coaches.

Arizona Wildcats assistant basketball coach Book Richardson was one of 10 arrested on Tuesday for allegedly participating in a bribe scheme. Not wanting to be associated with the scandal, Hughes Federal Credit Union has suspended its ads involving Miller.

“We’ve paused our promotions featuring Arizona basketball on our website during the investigation,” an HFCU spokesperson told the Tuscon Star.

A simple YouTube search yields several different HFCU ads featuring Miller. Here are a few:

The ads on YouTube date as far back as 2013.

Arizona has launched an independent investigation into Richardson for the time being.

Rick Pitino: ‘I will take ownership’ of Louisville scandal

Rick Pitino

In a Friday statement, former Louisville coach Rick Pitino again denied knowledge of illegal payments to players — but took responsibility for the scandal that happened under his watch.

Pitino issued the closest thing yet to an apology in the statement Friday, thanking his former players and fans who had supported him as he was deposed as Louisville coach amid a massive NCAA scandal involving illegal payments from shoe companies to college athletes.

“To the many friends and fans who reached out to me in the last few days: I owe a thousand thanks and an apology for the disappointment you must have,” Pitino said, via ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

As for the scandal itself, Pitino took ownership of what happened on his watch, and said he accepted Louisville’s decision to put him on administrative leave — almost certainly a prelude to his firing.

“As I’ve previously stated, I had no knowledge of any payments to any recruit or their family,” Pitino said. “But I was the head coach and I will take ownership of my decisions. The University took the action they thought was necessary and I will do the same.”

Pitino has maintained his innocence all along, but there are indications that he was much more involved in the alleged payments than he is letting on. Either way, he has lost his job, and probably won’t be getting another one.

Tom Crean reportedly not a candidate for Louisville interim job

Tom Crean

The Louisville Cardinals are moving closer to naming an interim head coach, but it reportedly will not be Tom Crean.

The former Marquette and Indiana coach reportedly was not in the mix for the Louisville position.

Crean was said to be under consideration, but both sides may view Crean as a more permanent solution for someone, and may not be prepared to go that route at this time. Perhaps Louisville did not see Crean as a fit, or perhaps the coach did not want to enter into an increasingly unsettled situation at Louisville which could end with major sanctions down the road.

Report: Rick Pitino accused of helping funnel money to top recruit

Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino has found himself at the center of a massive college basketball fraud scandal, and it would appear prosecutors are arguing that the Louisville head coach is guilty by more than just association.

CBS News reported on Thursday that Pitino is one of several unnamed coaches, players and other people who were mentioned in FBI indictments that were unsealed earlier this week. Pitino is reportedly referred to as “Coach-2” in court filings and is accused of helping to funnel money to a top recruit’s family.

According to the criminal complaint, “Coach-2” spoke with former ASM agent Christian Dawkins about sending money to the family of a recruit referred to as “Player-10.” Jared Peck of the Lexington Herald-Leader highlighted the relevant portions of the court filings:

The most damning allegation in the complaint says “DAWKINS then said he had spoken with Coach-2 about getting additional money for Player-10’s family and informed Coach-2 that ‘I need you to call Jim Gatto, (the defendant) who’s the head of everything’ at Company 1’s basketball program.”

Jim Gatto is the Adidas (Company-1) basketball executive named as a defendant in the complaint. “Player-10” is believed to be Louisville freshman Brian Bowen. Louisville said Wednesday it removed a player from all team activities, but did not name him as Bowen.

In the complaint, Augustine is said to have stated about another player that “he expected Company-1 to fund at least a portion of future payments to Player-11 and/or his family because … ‘no one swings a bigger d— than (Coach-2)’ at Company-1, adding that ‘all (Coach-2 has to do) is pick up the phone and call somebody, (and say) these are my guys, they’re taking care of us.’”

The complaint later states that someone with a phone number used by “Coach-2” — said to be Pitino — had conversations with Gatto days before five-star recruit Brian Bowen committed to Louisville. The implication is that the conversations had to do with Bowen’s family being paid $100,000 in exchange for his commitment to Louisville and promise to represent Adidas when he turns pro.

After Bowen committed to the Cardinals on June 3, Pitino said the school “got lucky” and that he has never had a five-star recruit fall into his lap the way Bowen did in his 40 years of coaching.

While Pitino issued a statement on Wednesday maintaining his innocence, Louisville still decided to place him on administrative leave and will fire the longtime coach once his 10-day notice period passes. Pitino had already been suspended five games for his alleged role in a prostitution scandal involving recruits.

Making things look worse for Louisville, former athletic director Tom Jurich — who was also fired on Wednesday — has a daughter who apparently works as a brand manager for Adidas at Louisville.

Rick Pitino issues statement maintaining innocence after firing

Rick Pitino

Louisville coach Rick Pitino is maintaining his innocence even after being placed on administrative leave by the university.

Louisville was implicated in the NCAA bribery scandal that has rocked the sport, with the investigation alleging that an Adidas executive paid top recruit Brian Bowen $100,000 to commit to the Cardinals. Pitino maintained in a statement that “a few bad actors” were involved, and he stood by that in a statement released Wednesday.

It gets harder and harder to believe Pitino, especially given how wide-ranging the scandal seems to be. Couple that with the fact that the program was hit hard by another scandal last year and the coach simply had to go.

Auburn offering full season ticket refunds after NCAA scandal breaks

Auburn is granting fans full refunds on season tickets after being implicated in the massive college basketball scandal that broke Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the program told James Crepea of AL.com that “full refunds” for season ticket packages are available on request. An “estimated 30” had been granted refunds as of 2:30 pm ET on Wednesday.

Auburn had just sold out its season ticket allotment on Monday, a day before news of the scandal broke publicly.

Tigers assistant coach Chuck Person was one of four coaches arrested for their involvement in a massive bribery scheme that has rocked the sport and will likely cost numerous high-profile figures their jobs, as it already has to Rick Pitino.

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