Members of the media swarm around U of L coach Rick Pitino as he enters Grawemeyer Hall.
University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is out Wednesday after the FBI alleged in a criminal complaint that coaches with the program had participated in a scheme to pay recruits’ families.
Steve Pence, Pitino’s attorney, told the Courier-Journal the coach has been placed on administrative leave but has been “effectively fired.”
Athletic director Tom Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave, Louisville interim president Greg Postel said in a news conference.
“I’m more angry than embarrassed,” Postel said, in reaction to the federal bribery investigation. “We will be looking for someone with integrity. There’s no reason this team can’t have a good season.
“It is vital for this university to strictly adhere to the NCAA rules and of course federal law. Failure to do that would be a tacit endorsement of criminal behavior.”
Pitino might have been put on administrative leave because under his contract, if he is fired he must be given 10 days’ prior notice and “an opportunity to be heard.”
The contract says he may be fired for a number of reasons, including “disparaging media publicity of a material nature that damages the good name and reputation of the university… if such publicity is caused by employee’s willful misconduct that could objectively be anticipated to bring Employee into public disrepute or scandal or which tends to greatly offend the public.”
Athletic director Tom Jurich was placed paid administrative leave. Jurich was Louisville’s athletic director for almost 20 years and presided over one of the most successful stretches in the organization’s history. That string included the rise of the baseball and football programs, including Lamar Jackson’s Heisman Trophy, as well as on-court success on the basketball court.
Postel confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Louisville was part of the FBI investigation. He said the allegation “is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university.” Postel added that “any violations will not be tolerated.”
Pitino, who is the highest paid coach in basketball, made nearly $7.8 million for the 2016-17 season, according to USA TODAY’s salary database. He has coached at the collegiate level at Boston University, Providence College, The University of Kentucky and Louisville. He also coached the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the NBA.
During his nearly 30-year coaching career, he has won 770 games at the college level, two national championships and made seven Final Fours. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Here’s a look at some of the highs and lows during his tenure at Louisville:
March 21, 2001: After four seasons as head coach of the Boston Celtics, Pitino returned to college — and the state of Kentucky — following the retirement of U of L head coach Denny Crum.
March 26, 2005: In just his fourth season at Louisville, Pitino’s team makes the Final Four after beating West Virginia, 93-85 in overtime. It was Louisville’s first Final Four appearance since 1986 and the first of three under Pitino.
April 19, 2009: Pitino releases a statement saying he was the target of an extortion attempt. He later admits to having sex with Karen Sypher, the wife of a University of Louisville equipment manager, and having paid $3,000 for her to have an abortion. Sypher was later convicted of extortion. Pitino apologized.
April 8, 2013: After entering the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, the Cardinals defeat the University of Michigan to capture the school’s third NCAA men’s basketball championship.
Oct. 2, 2015: The college basketball world is rocked by a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” in which escort Katina Powell alleges U of L staffer Andre McGee paid strippers and prostitutes to dance and have sex with U of L players and recruits in the team dormitory. Pitino said he had no knowledge of any of the events alleged in the book.
June 15, 2017: The NCAA, which opened an investigation into the allegations, suspends Pitino for the first five ACC games of the upcoming season and hits University of Louisville with a “vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible.” The school is appealing that decision.
Sept. 26, 2017: An FBI investigation alleges that a coach from a public research university in Kentucky that matches the description of Louisville paid $100,000 to a basketball recruit’s family. The school later acknowledged that the school’s men’s basketball recruiting was part of the investigation.
Contributing: Phillip M. Bailey and Justin Sayers of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Pitino’s attorney told the Courier-Journal the coach has been placed on administrative leave but has been ‘effectively fired.’
USA TODAY Sports
Gallery: Rick Pitino through the years