Posted on October 16, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
In a move that appeared inevitable, Rick Pitino has officially been fired as head basketball coach of the Louisville Cardinals. The University of Louisville Athletic Association voted unanimously to fire Pitino following a five-hour long meeting on Monday. The move follows an FBI investigation that saw 10 people associated with either college basketball or Adidas charged with corruption and bribery.
Pitino has denied that he knew of any illegal activities going on at Louisville. He did not attend the meeting, but Pitino’s lawyer submitted an affidavit to the board disputing the charges that allowed the board to fire him. However, the board believed there was enough evidence in the FBI’s report to fire Pitino “for cause.” Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave when the report came out last month.
“We listened carefully to what they said, we read carefully everything they gave us in the booklet of materials,” explains Louisville interim president Greg Postel. “At the end of the conversation, we felt that our initial decision to begin the process of termination for cause was still in the best interest of the university and that’s why the resolution was put forward and passed.
“There isn’t just a single reason. There were a number of issues that, over time, were brought to our attention. And we simply felt that this was in the best interest of the university and make the decision at this point in time.”
Louisville was not specifically named in the FBI report. However, Postel has since confirmed that Louisville was part of the FBI investigation. The school is said to have paid a recruit $100,000 in exchange for him joining the Cardinals. It’s believed that recruit is current freshman Brian Bowen. After the FBI report was released last month, Bowen was suspended from the team indefinitely.
“I had no part — active, passive, or through willful ignorance — in the conspiracy described in the complaint,” states Pitino’s affidavit. “I had no reason to know about the conspiracy described in the complaint and no reason to know about the complicity of any UL assistant coach or staff member in any bribery conspiracy.
“I never have had any part — active, passive, or through willful ignorance — in any effort, successful or unsuccessful, completed or abandoned, to pay any recruit, or any family member of a recruit, or anyone else on a recruit’s behalf, as an inducement to attend UL.”
In a presentation made to Louisville’s athletic board, one of Pitino’s lawyers, Steve Pence, claimed that the 65-year old coach passed a polygraph in which he was asked about Bowen’s family being paid in exchange for him attending Louisville. However, that was not enough to save Pitino’s job.
Even before the FBI released its findings, Pitino was in hot water. He was suspended for the first five ACC games this season and the school was forced to vacate its 2013 national championship because of a sex-for-play scandal run by a former member of the Louisville basketball staff. The Cardinals also imposed a postseason ban on themselves during the 2015-16 season because of the scandal.
Former Louisville player David Padgett has served as interim head coach since Pitino went on leave last month. He figures to coach the upcoming season, although it’s unclear if the interim tag will be removed from his name.
As for Pitino, his legacy is no doubt tarnished by yet another scandal and by the fact that he was dismissed from Louisville. In his career, he has 770 career wins, seven Final Four appearances, and two national championships. However, his coaching career is likely over and may forever be overshadowed by the scandals associated with his name.