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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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.

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