It’s clear that the Louisville sex scandal has taken a considerable toll on Rick Pitino. The Louisville head coach is so worn down that he apparently plans to consider whether he wants to return next season.
Pitino told Yahoo! Sports’s Pat Forde that he anticipates returning, but will consider whether or not the University of Louisville is better off without him.
“The probability of me coming back is very high,” Pitino said Tuesday. “Right now I’m fatigued mentally and emotionally. It’s a matter of, is the University of Louisville better off without me? If I come to the conclusion in June or July that the school is better without me – I left the cupboard full at Kentucky, and the program didn’t miss a beat.
“Now the cupboard is full here. This is a great job. They can get a person to make people forget Rick Pitino in a day. But I have to decide, are you willing to fight and stay on? I’m willing to fight. I love teaching, love coaching, love this team. I’ve just got to get over the sadness of all this. I’m really saddened that a player of mine that I trusted and gave a break to would be involved in this. I’m saddened by it. I don’t understand any of it. I want to come back for these players. I want to come back for [incoming recruit] V.J. King, who I told I would be there. I just have to get past the sadness.”
It doesn’t sound like Pitino is going to be walking away, but he isn’t shutting the door, and that’s interesting. The scandal has clearly taken a significant toll on him, and it sounds like the recently imposed postseason ban was something of a breaking point for him, though he’d already spoken at length about the scandal beforehand. The NCAA has yet to hand down its own sanctions, though, so if Pitino returns, he may be faced with more heartache and possibly some discipline of his own.
The men’s basketball program at Louisville has been under the microscope in recent months after allegations a member of the staff was accused of hiring escorts to dance for and have sex with players emerged. Not surprisingly, fans in opposing arenas have let the Cardinals hear it in regards to the allegations, and Wednesday was no different.
Louisville was in Pittsburgh for a meeting with the Panthers. Before the game got underway, the Pitt student section was fired up. When Rick Pitino was introduced, Pittsburgh fans taunted the Cardinals head coach by tossing fake dollar bills featuring Pitino’s face on them.
All things considered, this is more lighthearted compared to what has probably been said by those near the Louisville bench so far this season. Pitino has continued to deny knowing about the alleged sex parties. It’s obvious those in the student section on Wednesday aren’t buying that.
Rick Pitino believes the punishments against Louisville for their sex scandal are misdirected and should be targeted at the school rather than the current players. To that end, Pitino would prefer if Louisville were fined an eight-figure sum rather than banned from postseason play.
“My opinion is the school should be fined $10 million,” Pitino told SI’s Seth Davis. “They shouldn’t be allowed to collect any money from the tournament. The coach should have to take a hit in his salary, 20% or 50% or whatever. The kids should not be penalized, but (athletic director Tom Jurich) Tom has no choice. He has to comply.”
Pitino continues to say that he had no knowledge of the sex parties that were alleged to have involved his players. He says the people in the program know that he would have been so outraged by the parties that they went to great lengths to hide them from him. However, he still understands why people believe that as the program leader, he should be held responsible for what happened.
The Cardinals self-imposed a postseason ban for this season after concluding it was reasonable to believe violations had been committed. The outcome is particularly disappointing for two graduate transfers who came to Louisville for a shot to play in the tourney but will not have a chance to do so because of the actions of players who were previously in the program. You can read about the allegations against the Louisville program here.