Federal investigators are not buying Rick Pitino’s claims of innocence relating to the Adidas recruiting scandal.
Newly unsealed federal indictments indicate that Pitino — not named, but identified as Coach-2 in documents — both knew of and explicitly directed payments from Adidas executive Jim Gatto to potential recruits.
While this information could have been suspected from previous documents, it is the first direct evidence of Pitino’s explicit involvement in the scandal.
NBC NEWS: Indictments unsealed in NCAA fraud and bribery case allege that Rick Pitino ("coach-2") had knowledge of and directed payments to players. pic.twitter.com/npMZtRpRyH
If accurate, this runs completely counter to Pitino’s public denials of knowledge or wrongdoing. It also means that the former Louisville coach could, in theory, end up becoming a target of the investigation.
Rick Pitino insists he had no knowledge of any payments made to recruits or any illegal scam involving Adidas, and the former Louisville basketball coach says he has already proven himself with a lie detector test.
Pitino sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Jay Bilas this week, and he was asked if he knew about anything that recently came out when the FBI released findings from its fraud investigation.
“One of the toughest things you have to do is take a lie detector test,” Pitino told Bilas. “You have a blood pressure machine, you’re wired up, and I was asked two questions. … He said, ‘Did you have any knowledge of the Bowen family getting any money and did you have any knowledge of an Adidas transaction?’ I answered absolutely not on both questions and passed a lie detector test. I have no knowledge of any of this.”
Pitino was fired by Louisville on Monday for cause, meaning the university will not have to pay him the money remaining on his contract. He has adamantly denied having any knowledge of payments that were made from Adidas to five-star recruit Brian Bowen, though it would appear investigators believe they can link Pitino to the fraud scheme.
Even if Pitino can prove he had no knowledge of the alleged Adidas payments, this is the third embarrassing ordeal he has been a part of since he was hired by Louisville in 2001. He was also part of an extortion attempt in 2009 that stemmed from an affair he was having, and the NCAA had recently suspended him five games in relation to a sex parties scandal with recruits.
Rick Pitino has officially been fired by Louisville for cause, meaning the school will not have to pay him the money he is owed on his contract.
Pitino has been on unpaid administrative leave since September after Louisville was tied to an FBI investigation into bribery and wire fraud in the college basketball world. One of the allegations is that a Louisville recruit was paid $100,000 to attend the school.
Pitino, who has been the Cardinals’ head coach since 2001, denied any wrongdoing. In a hearing on Monday, Pitino’s attorneys said the coach “had no part — active, passive or through willful ignorance” in the FBI’s allegations.
The 65-year-old coach, who helped Louisville win a national championship in 2013, is under contract to make $44 million through the 2025-26 season. The athletic board’s investigation was to see whether Pitino could be fired for cause, which is the difference in him being owed the money remaining on his contract or not.
This is the third embarrassing ordeal in which he has been a part. He was also part of an extortion attempt in 2009, the result of an affair he’d had. Louisville also put itself on a postseason ban as punishment for a sex parties scandal that Pitino also denied any knowledge or involvement in.
Rick Pitino is on the verge of losing his job at Louisville, and it appears the longtime coach has already begun the process of skipping town.
According to the Courier-Jounral, Pitino has put his East Louisville home on the market. The 5,100-square-foot house does not have a price attached to it for the public to see, but it was assessed at just over $1 million for tax purposes four years ago. The home is located in the Mockingbird Gardens Estates neighborhood, which is one of the most exclusive areas of Louisville.
Pitino was placed on administrative leave after Louisville was one of the schools named in an FBI fraud investigation last month. A top executive at Adidas is accused of helping to funnel money to top recruits in exchange for their commitments to Adidas-sponsored programs. Pitino has maintained that he had no idea what was going on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rick Pitino seems unlikely to ever coach a college basketball team again, and it doesn’t sound like the NBA will be any more forgiving.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Pitino has looked into potential NBA jobs in recent years, but never found any interest — a situation unlikely to change now that he’s been disgraced by a series of scandals.
Rick Pitino has probed NBA teams on return as a head coach in recent years, but there's been no interest in him. That's unlikely to change.
Beyond the baggage, Pitino’s last job in the NBA — coach and general manager of the Boston Celtics — was unsuccessful and sometimes turbulent. His firing by Louisville almost certainly guarantees that his coaching career is finished.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is also expected to lose his job, and it would not be a surprise if more heads roll before the FBI investigation is sorted out.
Four college assistant coaches (none from Louisville) were among the 10 people arrested Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a massive bribery scheme in which Jim Gatto, director of global marketing for Adidas Basketball, paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to funnel top recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs. One interesting storyline to emerge is that Jurich’s daughter apparently works as an Adidas brand manager for Louisville.
Pitino had coached at Louisville since 2012 and will finish with a record of 416–141 with the program. He led the team to a national championship in 2013 and three Final Four appearances.
Rick Pitino insists he had no knowledge of any fraud or corruption scheme involving the Louisville basketball program, but that does not mean the longtime coach expects to face no consequences in the wake of the allegations.
ESPN’s Michael Eaves is reporting that Pitino told members of his staff in a meeting on Wednesday that he expects to lose his job. On Tuesday, Pitino released a statement saying he was stunned to learn that Louisville is involved in a federal investigation stemming from a recruiting scandal.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” Pitino said in the statement. “I agree with the U.S. Attorneys Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
Four college assistant coaches (none from Louisville) were among the 10 people arrested Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a massive bribery scheme in which Jim Gatto, director of global marketing for Adidas Basketball, paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to funnel top recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs. While Louisville was not named specifically in the indictments, a school that meets its exact description was and the university has confirmed it is involved in the investigation.
Louisville is currently on probation and Pitino has been suspended five games in the wake of a prostitution scandal involving recruits. Even if Pitino could somehow prove he had no knowledge of a fraud scheme, there’s no way the school can justify keeping him now.