Pitino brought ‘Kentucky’s shame’ to Louisville: Firing was deserved

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, whose program is already on NCAA probation, is now caught up in an FBI investigation in which a recruit reportedly was paid $100,000. (AP photo)

Updated: 1:30 p.m.

Back in 1993, shortly after Rick Pitino had breathed life back into the Kentucky basketball program, I traveled to Lexington to talk to him about how he turned around a program that only a few years earlier was depicted on a Sports Illustrated cover with the headline, “Kentucky’s Shame.”

His words from 24 years ago are applicable today:

“When they fell here, they fell hard,” Pitino told me, alluding to Kentucky’s NCAA probation that stemmed from payments to recruits. “Right now we don’t want to embrace our success. We want to manage it. It took some reckless moments to lose a great thing. Once you start flaunting your accomplishments, your fall is a lot harder.”

Welcome to the floor, Ricky.

Pitino and Louisville, a perfect pairing in Greedy College Athletics Hell, have fallen — and they don’t deserve a chance to get up.

Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have both effectively been fired. The school held a 1 p.m. news conference, during which interim president Greg Postel said Pitino has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and Jurich on paid leave. The two cases were handled differently because they have different employers (Jurich is an employee of the university; Pitino an employee of the athletic administration). But it’s common for coaches and athletic officials to be placed on administrative leave before the economics of their exit/firing can be finalized.

WSB’s Zach Klein and I discuss Pitino’s firing on the “We Never Played The Game” podcast here

Next question: Who else will go? Because many should at a university that excels at enabling and has shown no moral compass when it comes to athletics. It’s also worth asking if the Louisville basketball program should be given the death penalty. I lean toward yes.

The FBI announced an investigation into a college basketball corruption scandal on Tuesday. Four assistant coaches from Auburn, USC, Arizona and Oklahoma State were arrested, but that’s expected to be only the beginning. The investigation also includes documents detailing a financial arrangement between a Louisville staff member, an official from Adidas and others to funnel $100,000 to the family of a recruit.

Postel said, “The allegations are troubling to all of us.  … It is vital for this university to strictly adhere to NCAA rules and, of course, federal law. To do nothing would be a tacit endorsement of unethical and criminal behavior.”

The school also is withholding “one student athlete from activities.” That athlete is believed to be freshman Brian Bowen, the former recruit allegedly at the center of a $100,000 inducement paid by adidas, according to an FBI indictment.

“You can’t make this up,” J. David Grissom, chairman of the Louisville board, said of the allegations.

Pitino has proclaimed his innocence. Of course. He’s shocked, shocked, that such an arrangement was in place. But when has this man ever admitted guilt about anything?

Pitino has only released a statement through his attorney, saying the allegations “come as a complete shock to me,” and referenced “third-party schemes” that are “initiated by a few bad actors” who “commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs.”

His objective: Deny and stay at a splatter-proof distance.

Save it.

Pitino has survived his share of scandals. Why? Because he can coach and generates revenue. ‘Merica.

Most recently, Louisville stood by him despite the fact one of his former staff members (Andre McGee) was found to have provided strippers and prostitutes to more than a dozen recruits. Pitino says he knew nothing about it. Because, you now, assistants often go rogue in these situations and pay for strippers and prostitutes for recruits without the head coach’s knowledge.

Louisville is already on probation for the strippers scandal. (It turns out strippers, prostitutes and supplying alcohol to underage recruits is not permissible by NCAA regulations, even at powerful sports programs.) But the Louisville administration stood by Pitino until today because is the university has long prioritized revenue over morals.

I don’t think Louisville is any more moralistic today. It’s just trying to save itself now.

Jurich not only hired and stood by Pitino, he also hired Bobby Petrino. Twice.

Imagine a university that has Pitino and Petrino as you primary leaders of young male athletes?

Louisville may be the gorilla of the guilty parties in the FBI investigation, but it won’t be the only program damaged by this case. This “dark underbelly” (FBI’s apt description) of college basketball – involving shoe companies, AAU coaches, street agents and college coaches – has been the worst kept secret in sports.

With all of the recent baggage, it’s worth asking: Should Louisville basketball get the death penalty? I would lean toward yes. Because in Pitino’s own words: “It took some reckless moments to lose a great thing. Once you start flaunting your accomplishments, your fall is a lot harder.”

Previously on this subject

— Louisville cares more about revenue and Rick Pitino than morals

— Rick Pitino may not survive latest claims regarding strippers, recruits

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. Episodes also can be downloaded from on-demand link on WSBRadio.com.

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Reader Comments 0

42 comments
tosejilu
tosejilu

just before I looked at the paycheck of $5519, I didnt believe that my friends brother was like they say trully receiving money part-time on their apple labtop.. there neighbour started doing this 4 less than twenty three months and by now repaid the loans on their condo and purchased a top of the range Porsche 911. go to, http://bit.ly/2x2rKKJ


TideDawg
TideDawg

I don't think this basketball scandal is anything new. There's always violations, but the NCAA doesn't do anything about it until it gets absurdly evident. The FBI stepped in on this one and now the NCAA is trapped into playing  the "Big Brother is watching" card and must act.

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg Then, I wish the FBI would step in to the N. Carolina stall.....

USMC2841
USMC2841

Finished my bracket

Louisville

          \

            FBI     

             /

FBI           

TMD1
TMD1

No "shock" here - only shock is that this was not discovered sooner.

vihowajoro
vihowajoro

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DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Is that the going commission rate for arranging these under-the-table shoe endorsements?

HowdyJune
HowdyJune

If these allegations are true, then I don't just lean toward the death penalty, I endorse it for the basketball program.  Moreover, the school's other athletic programs should be banned from postseason playoffs and placed on probation.  It is time for this type of thing to stop.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

We have here an op-ed littered with racist epithets and coded racial phrasing which advocates for oppression of minority and underprivileged players by a corrupted establishment and judicial system. Don't really know what to make of it, considering this is the AJC.

Mulk
Mulk

@DawgDadII Okay. I'll bite. It all sounds corrupt, but please point out the epithets and coded racial phrasing.

_Eileen
_Eileen

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OH:IO
OH:IO

Kick em when they're up kick em when they're down they're


Kick em when they're up, kick em all around. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO Having flashbacks of the Clemson /Ohio State game ,Bucky!!!!!!!!!

USMC2841
USMC2841

@OH:IO The floor recognizes the gentleman from Tattoo U.

MauryL
MauryL

auburn's cheating and paying players and they still suck! what gives---bruce needs to come clean and explain this.

shalar
shalar

my mom in-law recently purchased an almost new red Infiniti G Convertible IPL only from working off a computer. see more.+++++www.buzz-career.com

OH:IO
OH:IO

Petino FIRED

LowSage
LowSage

rick's cheating brings in millions to pay these fatcat salaries---that's all they care about at these big money schools---cash in.

TOJacket
TOJacket

If Penn St. doesn't get the Death penalty I don't see how Louisville could.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TOJacket Just take away 6 basketball scholarships ,and all TV money generated by the ACC and the Ban the Cardinals from NCAA tournament eligibility for 4 years, and you have basically put Louisville on life support.

RealLurker
RealLurker

@TOJacket Penn St. as nasty as the situation was didn't violate any NCAA rules.  The NCAA doesn't have specific rules against pedophilia because every state has laws against it.  The guilty people should be in jail, not sanctioned by the NCAA.


Lousiville was just blasted for violating NCAA rules.  Supposedly one coach is on tape saying these payments would have to be made on the down low because they were already on NCAA probation.  If this doesn't deserve the NCAA death penalty, then nothing ever will.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@RealLurker @TOJacket So if Joe Pa knew and let it continue along with other higher ups in the name of $Football$ they can't kill it?

USMC2841
USMC2841

@RealLurker @TOJacket They've used the catch all of "Lack of institutional control" for years.  Everybody but the Janitor let it go unreported.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Um, what about the Auburn Asst? 


SEC! SEC! 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TOJacket @OH:IO Nebraska, Rutgers and even Georgia Tech have Contracts with Adidas. Too bad for the Jackets this scheme was brought to light before Josh Pastner could reap the benefits.

SvenOttke
SvenOttke

@Buschleaguer @TOJacket @OH:IO Tech has a futures contract with Adidas, not current.  And Tech is not tied to this scandal but they did land a 4 star guard on Saturday.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TOJacket @Buschleaguer @OH:IO TO .Chill out .The Adidas contract will not take effect until next year. Pastner will find out the hard way about recruiting at Tech, although you may only need one 4 star to be competitive in Hoops.

Grant1296
Grant1296

And basketball doesn't???

You're really slipping Caryd...