Rick Pitino goes off about Louisville scandal in press conference
Rick Pitino went off during a pregame news conference about the Louisville escort scandal and the media, and it was a doozy.
Pitino hadn’t done a pregame press conference for several weeks, and was criticized for skipping media availability after the team’s loss to Kentucky. Friday’s presser started with a fairly innocuous question asking whether he’d flipped off the fans or not, and it turned into an explanation as to why he skipped the press conferences surrounding the Kentucky game, then a diatribe about the Louisville scandal and the coverage of it.
“I did not,” Pitino said to answer the question, via WDRB. “It wasn’t fans, per se, I was in the tunnel, and it’s really not important. And I’ll say this to you guys, you guys think it’s important, and I respect if you say I should show up for a press conference and you write it, that’s not what I’m pissed off at you about.
“I wasn’t doing the press conference because it’s a very emotional game for me. When we go into a press conference in a neighborhood like that, I don’t want to hear about the scandal, OK? I don’t want to hear about that. That has bothered me every single night.”
Pitino turned his fire toward a local journalist, WDRB’s Rick Bozich, and took issue with his reporting. He also took issue with ESPN and other organizations giving the mistress at the center of the alleged scandal, Katina Powell, a platform to tell the story.
“What bothers me about you is you say, I know everybody’s body fat, you must know about this (events in the dorm). That pisses me off, beyond your wildest dreams. Because that took place in Billy Minardi Hall, and we didn’t get one recruit. Somebody criminally came onto our campus. I’m pissed off at ESPN for even giving a forum to that person. If there are crimes — now I didn’t read the book, you guys read the book, so I only know what people tell me — but if there are crimes being committed, why is the NCAA or ESPN giving a forum to that person. If there are crimes, now I don’t know if there are crimes being committed.”
Pitino also took aim at Powell’s claim that she kept a journal over four years detailing the events at Louisville, again pressing ESPN and other organizations for not pressing her on it.
“Correct me if I’m wrong on this,” Pitino said. “The statement was made, ‘You mean to tell me this person kept a four-year log of everything that was going on? Wrote a journal about this?’ No, no, we wrote it. She can’t complete two sentences the right way to write a book. That was said. Is that the way it was said? So you mean to tell me a book was written, a four-year record was kept? There was no four-year record. You’ve got to be kidding me. So nobody goes after, ESPN doesn’t go after, are you telling the truth? Did you keep a four year journal? Did you write it? Or was it written just to get this book out because the excerpts were going to be given to The Courier-Journal or The Courier-Journal was going to get hold of it?”
Pitino divulged that the NCAA had not yet spoken to him as part of their investigation, but once again asserted that he knew nothing about what was happening – which Powell has disputed – and that he would have taken immediate action if he did know.
“I guarantee you if anybody knew about it, and it got back to me, all hell,” Pitino said. “And I really feel the same way about my assistant coaches, the same way about them. I think they’re an extension of me. I think if they would have known anything, all held would have broken loose. So in 2016, this will be the last time I ever mention it. But I am getting it off my chest now, because I want to say it one time. And I really don’t care about what anybody thinks, why I don’t show up at a press conference, I couldn’t care less.”
Pitino closed by admitting that someone involved with the program – almost certainly former assistant Andre McGee – had acted inappropriately and “wronged” the university.
“I believe in the way we do things, and I believe we have been wronged. We have been wronged. Now, did one person do some scurrilous things? I believe so. From what I know now, I believe so. The only thing I don’t know, I don’t know why he did it. I just, for the life of me, can’t figure out — he knew better, he was taught better, by his parents and by me.”
Pitino said that he won’t be speaking about the scandal again in 2016, but he has made his feelings quite clear about Powell, McGee, his role in the alleged scandal, and the media coverage of it.