Rick Pitino’s lawyer made his case before Louisville’s athletics board earlier today in a bid for the embattled coach to keep his job. It went for naught as the board voted to terminate Pitino’s contract “with just cause.”
Pitino maintains he played no part in the activities alleged in an FBI investigation, in which payments of $100,000 were made to the family of five-star freshman Brian Bowen.
Bowen committed to Louisville in early June and has now been indefinitely suspended by the university.
6’7 5-star wing Brian “Tugs” Bowen has quietly become one of the top high school scorers in the nation. Hailing from Michigan, but attending La Lumiere Prep in LaPorte, IN, Bowen averaged 20.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a junior while playing a competitive national high school schedule.
Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on September 27th. On October 2nd, the school’s athletics board began the process to terminate Pitino for cause.
“I had no part — active, passive, or through willful ignorance — in the conspiracy described in the complaint,” Pitino, who was not present at the hearing, said in an affidavit that was presented by his lawyers today. “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.”
Pitino, who has $44 million remaining in salary and bonuses in a contract extension through the 2025-26 season, admitted that he has communicated with James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for Adidas who is at the center of the FBI’s bribery investigation. But the former Cardinals coach said they never discussed providing improper benefits to a player or recruit and he is adamant that the university is “rushing to judgment, condemning me for actions that the NCAA is only beginning to investigate.”
Highlights from the 2012-13 University of Louisville men’s basketball National Championship season.
Pitino, who led Louisville to the 2013 national championship, was scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.1 million this year. As a result of a sex-for-pay scandal organized by a former assistant coach that involved players and recruits, Pitino was already suspended for the first five ACC games of the upcoming season and there’s a chance that their national title from four years ago could be vacated as well.