University of Louisville men’s basketball Coach Rick Pitino issued a statement through his attorney Tuesday evening, responding to the morning’s bombshell indictments by federal prosecutors stemming from a FBI sting targeting those surrounding several NCAA men’s basketball programs.
While the indictment alleged that an unnamed UofL coach was caught on tape by the FBI this summer participating in an illegal scheme — designed to help a top official with Adidas bribe top recruits in order to attend the school — Pitino said in his statement that these allegations “come as a complete shock to me.”
“If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorneys 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,” stated Pitino. “Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
A number of basketball commentators said Tuesday that if the allegations were true, Pitino should either resign or be fired as UofL’s head basketball coach, citing the team’s escort scandal that also happened under his watch and led to stiff NCAA penalties against the program this summer. However, Pitino’s attorney Steve Pence told IL in a phone interview Tuesday night that the coach had no reason to even consider resigning over today’s revelations.
“There have been no allegations made against Coach Pitino, so there would be no reason for him — in my perspective, anyway – to be thinking of resigning,” said Pence.
Pence added that the federal prosecutor “called this a fraud on the university, not perpetrated by Rick Pitino, but perpetrated by a company. So as you’ll see, we’ll cooperate fully in finding who is responsible for this fraud on the university.” He also said that the indictments stated that “part of the conspiracy was for them to hide these transactions from the university… so that they wouldn’t be detected by people like the coach.”
Asked if Pitino is meeting with UofL’s interim President Greg Postel and UofL board of trustees chairman J. David Grissom on Wednesday morning — or if the coach had corresponded with either leader Tuesday — Pence said he didn’t know and couldn’t comment on that, adding that “this just broke today, and obviously, the coach is very concerned about it. He’s very shocked by it.”
“I think people need to take a long, deep breath, and let’s see what the allegations really are,” said Pence.
Pence also said that he was not able to answer whether of not Pitino knew who “Coach-1” and “Coach-2” were in the indictment. While Coach-1 was recorded in several meetings with the defendants — allegedly saying that the bribe scheme should be “low key,” as UofL was already on probation — Coach-2 two was referred to by a defendant as someone who could secure payments for the player from Adidas, as “no one swings a bigger dick than (him).”
The indictment appears to suggest that the recruit who was paid $100,000 by the defendants to attend UofL is current freshman Brian Bowen, a top recruit who suddenly switched his choice to UofL just after the alleged scheme was implemented.