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.
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.
Rick Pitino is out as the Louisville men’s basketball coach in the wake of yet another scandal involving the program.
Shortly after reports surfaced that Pitino had informed his assistants he expected to be fired, the university made the move official.
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.
Louisville is already on probation stemming from a prostitution scandal involving recruits. Pitino had been suspended five games in the wake of the scandal.
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.
Rick Pitino’s Louisville program is at the center of another scandal, and the head coach once again is trying to distance himself from matters.
Here’s a statement Pitino’s attorney sent out on Tuesday. Pitino says he is “shocked” by the allegations and says he wants those potentially guilty to be held accountable.
The federal indictment released on Tuesday says an Adidas executive paid $100,000 to a top high school player who committed to a school in June. The player and school are believed to be Brian Bowen and Louisville. Pitino commented on the commitment from Bowen in June, essentially saying the recruit fell into his lap.
The NCAA had already charged Pitino with failure to monitor in the sex scandal. In that case, Pitino said one of his staffers acted independently in arranging sex parties for recruits.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino remembers the days of high school basketball players skipping college to go straight to the NBA — and he predicts that those days will soon return.
In an interview with Marty Smith of ESPN, Pitino said that he expects the NBA to lower its age minimum — currently at 19 — to once again allow high school stars to go directly into the NBA draft.
“When I was at Kentucky I had seven high school basketball players told me they were coming, and instead they went to the pros out of high school,” Pitino said. “And by the way, I think that rule’s going to change back to that. I think high school players are going to be able to go pro again. I think the commissioner’s probably going to do it within two years.”
Pitino didn’t seem to have any evidence to back this up, just a feeling. He is likely right that a change is coming as far as the age limit goes, but if it’s up to Adam Silver, that threshold will go up, not down.
Karen Sypher, the woman who tried to extort Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, is set to be released from prison, according to a report.
WDRB says Sypher will be freed on Friday. She reportedly has seen family in her hometown of Middleton the past few weeks.
Sypher will still have to complete two years of probation, but she will no longer be in lockup.
The 57-year-old was found guilty in 2010 of extortion and lying to the FBI. She and Pitino had sex in a Louisville restaurant in 2003, and she later made many financial demands of him, including asking for $10 million.
Pitino went public in 2009 about the extortion attempt.
Sypher had served her sentence in Alabama and Florida, according to WDRB.
There are a lot of factors to look at when filling out your bracket once March Madness rolls around. Who’s coming in on a hot streak? Who has the sort of player that can take over and win a game on their own? How many experienced upperclassmen does each team have to turn to when the pressure is on?
Due to the very nature of college basketball, roster turnover is high, and it’s hard to put much stock in long-term trends for that exact reason. However, there is one constant, and that is the coaches.
Here are a few of the coaches you can put some faith in to have their teams primed and ready to make a potentially deep run into March.
5) Roy Williams, North Carolina
Williams is about as reliable as they come in terms of avoiding upsets and taking a team deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Since joining the Tar Heels in 2003, Williams had guided the school to 12 tournament appearances. Only once has his team’s run been ended by a double-digit seed, and in the five times they’ve been eliminated by a lower seed, three of them were as No. 1 seeds to a No. 2 seed. He almost always guides his teams deep into the tournament, as he’s been to the Elite Eight 12 times dating back to his years at Kansas, making it to the Final Four on eight occasions.
Williams’ team can make a good case for a No. 1 seed again in 2017. Don’t be surprised if they’re playing late into March once again.
4) Sean Miller, Arizona
Rick Pitino had to be restrained from going after a North Carolina fan as he was heading into the tunnel at halftime Wednesday night, and the Louisville coach blasted the fan after the game. He also noted that the fan was not a UNC student.
While he did not reveal exactly what it was that the fan said to him, Pitino said he has less patience for heckling fans who are not students than those who are.
“He just got in my face and said something I didn’t like,” the coach explained. “I take it from the students all the time. I expect it from students. But from an adult, who then turns his back on me, like he’s a coward … and he is a coward.”
Pitino added that he has always considered Chapel Hill to be a friendly environment, but he is starting to rethink that.
“I’ve always said this is the classiest place in college basketball, until I met a fan on the way out,” he said. “It always reminded me of a class place, but they’re getting just like some of the other places now.”
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams seemed equally upset about the incident.
While Pitino is exaggerating a bit when he says the fan “got in my face,” something was obviously said that set him off. You can see the video of Pitino trying to go after the fan here.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had to be restrained from going after a North Carolina fan while heading into the tunnel at halftime of his team’s game in Chapel Hill on Wednesday.
Pitino’s Cardinals entered halftime trailing the Tar Heels 33-30 in a close ACC game. It’s unclear what the fan said to enrage him, but Pitino was clearly fired up and had to be held back by some of his assistants:
Pitino was fiery throughout the first half of the game, so it’s not too surprising he was heated at halftime.
It seems like Louisville tried to address the issue with the fan:
The fan was ejected. According to ESPN’s broadcast, the fan shouted, “Pitino, you suck!”
This isn’t the first time Pitino’s had an issue with opposing fans. There were questions last season about whether or not he flipped off Kentucky fans while heading into the tunnel (see it here).