Rick Pitino out as Louisville men's basketball coach following latest scandal

AD Tom Jurich also loses job

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rick Pitino's attorney says the controversial University of Louisville basketball coach was "effectively fired" Wednesday when the university placed him on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Officially, Louisville put the Hall of Fame coach on unpaid leave while Athletic Director Tom Jurich was put on paid leave by interim president Greg Postel.

Pitino's attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal that the longtime coach is out. Pitino had no comment as he walked to the basketball office.

"I'm more angry than embarrassed," Postel said at a news conference Wednesday. "We will be looking for someone with integrity.

"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."

Postel acknowledged Tuesday that Louisville has been implicated in the corruption investigation involving college basketball coaches accused of bribing recruits and taking bribes from agents and shoe company representatives. 

Pitino's ouster followed FBI allegations that a coach at an unnamed Kentucky school arranged a payment of $100,000 from Adidas to the family of an unnamed player to ensure he signed with the school, according to ESPN.

Media reports have identified Louisville as the school, and Postel appeared to confirm that Wednesday. Postel said an incoming freshman has been informed he will not practice or play for the university until an investigation is resolved.

Pitino, who was not named in federal documents,  called accusations by prosecutors Tuesday  "a complete shock."

Pitino may have been put on administrative leave because, under his contract, if he is fired he must be given 10 days' notice and “an opportunity to be heard," according to the Courier-Journal.

The contract says Pitino 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.”

Several scandals involving Pitino and the basketball program have given Louisville a black eye. The most recent involved an assistant,  Andre McGee, who was accused of hiring strippers to provide sex for basketball recruits in 2015. Pitino denied any knowledge of that.

However, Pitino admitted to impregnating an equipment manager's wife in 2003 and paying for her abortion.

The stripper scandal brought heavy penalties from the NCAA, including an order to vacate Louisville's 2013 national title. The university is appealing.

Jurich has defended Pitino through during the athletic director's nearly 20 years at the university.

Postel said he informed Pitino and Jurich during a Wednesday morning meeting. Trustees will make a final decision on their fates no later than their next scheduled meeting on Oct. 18, Postel said.

Postel said the school will work quickly to name an interim coach and athletic director, possibly within 48 hours. The status of the coaching staff will be made by the interim coach, Postel said.

The school's board of trustees was unanimous in supporting the moves, according to chairman J. David Grissom, who also attended the news conference. 

ESPN’s Michael Eaves first reported Pitino's ouster Wednesday morning.

A source told Eaves that Pitino told his coaching staff he expected to lose his job after a Wednesday morning staff meeting in Louisville. 

The latest college basketball scandal exploded Tuesday when four assistant coaches and six others were arrested on federal corruption charges.

MORE: Former Xavier U coach among NCAA coaches charged in federal corruption scheme

They included a former Xavier assistant, Emanuel "Book" Richardson of the University of Arizona. Richardson was paid two bribes totaling $20,000, according to a federal criminal complaint. Richardson is accused of keeping some of the money for himself and giving some to at least one high school basketball player to entice him to play for Arizona. 

Richardson was an assistant to Sean Miller at Xavier for two seasons and followed Miller to Arizona in 2009.

The four assistant coaches, including Richardson, accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents, according to the complaint. Authorities also charged Chuck Person of Auburn, Tony Bland of  USC and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. 

Also arrested were James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for Adidas; Merl Code, an Adidas employee; Christian Dawkins, a former NBA agent who was recently fired from ASM Sports; Munish Sood, a financial adviser; Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program; and Rashan Michel, a former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a custom clothier for athletes.

 

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