Rick Pitino finally responded to the FBI’s allegations against his Louisville basketball program on Tuesday night and his statement was as lame as we all expected it would be. Clearly he spent the afternoon crafting his remarks and, shockingly, took longer than 15 seconds to finish. What we got was a ridiculous denial from a coach with no more leash to deny things.
Here is the statement, released by Pitino’s attorney:
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney’s 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.”
The steps Pitino needs to take should be aimed directly at the door. He should resign immediately and go away quietly, never to show his face again.
In case you were under a rock on Monday, FBI announced charges of fraud and corruption against 10 people who are connected to college basketball. Four assistant coaches from major programs were arrested as the result of a three-year investigation into coaches being paid tens of thousands of dollars to steer NBA prospects to certain sports agents, apparel companies and advisers.
One section took aim at a “public research university located in Kentucky” which was definitely Louisville. The incident under investigation concerned a scheme designed to funnel around $100,000 from Adidas to a top recruit. That recruit has been identified as current Louisville freshman Brian Bowen.
How bad is this for Louisville? Well, they are currently on probation by the NCAA and Pitino is facing a suspension for his role in the Katina Powell/strippers/hookers/recruiting scandal. Pitino passed the blame for that scandal off on then-director of basketball operations Andre McGee. Unfortunately for Louisville and Pitino, the NCAA saw through that joke of an excuse and hit Pitino with a “failure to monitor” charge.
Louisville received its punishment from the NCAA on June 11, 2017. The FBI alleges one of its basketball assistants was in a hotel room in Las Vegas with Adidas representatives discussing how to funnel money to help land a star 2019 recruit on July 27, 2017. In fact, the men even discussed how the payments to that recruit’s family had to be extra discreet because of Louisville’s ongoing NCAA issues.
Folks, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say Louisville’s basketball program is screwed.
Pitino claimed the Powell scandal happened without his knowledge, and now claims he had no idea a recruit he signed was being paid. That begs the question, does anything happen at Louisville that Pitino is actually aware of?
In the end, we all knew this was how college basketball operated. For years we’ve all ignored the growing influence of shoe companies and AAU programs on the recruiting process. This is the end result. Like the steroid crisis in baseball, everyone knew the score but we waited years to actually blow the whistle.
Pitino’s reputation has been forever ruined and in his wake, he’ll likely leave Louisville’s program a smoldering pile of rubble. He’s earned his ignominy and has gone from a hero to a goat in the span of a few years. A man who once might have been on college basketball’s Mount Rushmore will now reside on its scrapheap.
Anyone who had been paying attention saw this coming. Pitino wants us to believe he is the only one who didn’t. Sorry Rick, we’re not buying it.