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.
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.
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.
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.