The University of Louisville has reportedly fired Men’s Basketball head coach Rick Pitino. Louisville interim president Greg Postel also fired Athletic Director (and university vice president) Wednesday morning. The news comes following Tuesday’s scandal that shook the college basketball world as the FBI brought federal corruption charges against four NCAA assistant basketball coaches in an apparent ‘pay-to-play’ scheme.
Although the university wasn’t named explicitly in the case, “University-6” appears to be Louisville as the coaches discussed the need for discretion due to an ongoing NCAA probation.
This is unreal, where a U of L coach says "we gotta be very low key" since U of L is already on probation. pic.twitter.com/JfSLiQ5h1G— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) September 26, 2017
In his time at Louisville, Pitino has been no stranger to scandals. In 2009, he admitted to having an affair with and paying for an abortion for a woman trying to extort him for cars, tuition, and millions of dollars. Before this season, the NCAA put Louisville on probation for four years, limited recruiting and scholarships, and suspended Pitino for the first five ACC games in 2017 following their investigation on Louisville’s former director of basketball operations obtaining strippers for recruits.
Pitino, a Hall of Famer, coached the Cardinals for 16 seasons, reaching the Final Four twice and winning the National Championship in 2012-2013. He is the only NCAA basketball coach to win the NCAA title with two different teams (won with Kentucky in 1995-1996) and overall record of 770-271, a 74% winning percentage in 32 seasons. At Louisville, the Cardinals only missed the NCAA tournament three times, twice making the NIT and once (2015-2016) after self-imposing a post-season ban in the wake of their stripper scandal.
Jurich, who is also the University’s Vice President, was relieved of duties after 20 years in the position. He oversaw some of the most successful times of Louisville’s athletic programs, and helped facilitate the Cardinals’ move to the ACC. Jurich was named the Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily Athletic Director of the Year in 2007 and was also a finalist in 2013. According to Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle, Jurich was first asked to resign, but refused, but other sources say he was fired for refusing to fire Pitino.
According to sources, Tom Jurich was asked to fire Rick Pitino, refused, both were fired— Kent Taylor (@KentTaylorWAVE) September 27, 2017
Two Louisville assistant coaches allegedly planned to funnel current U of L freshman Brian Bowen $100,000 and conspired with James Gatto - director of global sports marketing for Adidas - to have Bowen sign with Adidas upon entering the NBA (Louisville is an Adidas school, as a reminder).
Pitino issued a statement through his lawyer yesterday afternoon that made it seem he was unaware of the entire situation:
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.
Virginia is set to face Louisville twice this season - January 31 and March 1 - and holds a 5-1 record against the Cards since the team joined the ACC back in 2013. The basketball season officially starts in two days, and the Cardinals were ranked at #10 in ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Top 25”.