Former University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino criticized the board of trustees this week in an interview with Terry Meiners on NewsRadio 840 WHAS.

Pitino came to Tom Jurich’s defense, saying Jurich is the best athletics director in the business. Pitino said his firing is part of a witch hunt. “You need to build a statue of Tom Jurich, not smear him,” he said.

The firing came after the men’s basketball program was implicated in a federal pay-to-play investigation.

Pitino called into the radio show from Florida where he was visiting family. He defended the man he worked under for more than a decade.

“You know it just turns my stomach to see something written like that about him, and it hurts us going forward with our appeal,” Pitino said.

Pitino took particular issue with the assertion that Jurich failed to oversee coaches and their players.

Meiners: “Were you supervised? Were there reviews of you and your assistant coaches?”

Pitino: “Terry, there were weekly reviews. This is a witch hunt of epic proportions on that man and his family.”

But Pitino said interim president Greg Postel is not the only one to blame. “This is not him speaking. He’s a nice man, and this is not him speaking,” Pitino said.

During the interview, he pointed a finger at the board of trustees. He said the decisions of a few would impact countless others.

“You’re breaking apart the community. You’re breaking apart the fan base. You’re breaking apart the donors. You’re hurting the basketball program down the road,” Pitino said.

Pitino said he loves the university and the players. He said he leaves the university with his head high. “I want to coach my basketball team. That’s all I want. If they want to bring me back tomorrow, I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said.

Pitino said he thought the university should honor its contract with Jurich.

The federal investigation also resulted in the UofL Athletic Association unanimously voting to fire Rick Pitino for cause. The hall of fame coach believes UofL violated his contract and owes him more than $40 million in compensation.

Assistant coach Jordan Fair was also fired. Assistant Kenny Johnson remains suspended.