- Joe Robbins/Getty
Head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is out at the University of Louisville one day after the FBI arrested 10 people on charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball.
Pitino has been placed on indefinite unpaid administrative leave, Louisville Interim President Greg Postel announced during a press conference on Wednesday.
Prior to the press conference, Pitino’s attorney Steve Spence told the Courier-Journal that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino by placing him on leave.
Earlier Wednesday, Pitino had reportedly told his staff that he expected to be fired over the scandal. The school’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, was also placed on paid administrative leave.
An undercover agent working with an FBI investigation accused an executive at Adidas and several other defendants of funneling $100,000 to the family of a high-school basketball player to persuade the player to sign with an unnamed public research university in Kentucky.
The complaint in which the allegation appeared doesn’t name the university, but, based on details provided, it was almost certainly Louisville, which signed a $160 million sponsorship deal with Adidas in August. The complaint said the student’s commitment to Louisville seemed to come “out of nowhere” in early June; the five-star recruit Brian Bowen surprised many on June 3 by announcing plans to play for the school.
The complaint said at least two coaches at the university seemed aware of plans to bribe the player. In fact, an undercover agent described one of the defendants – Jonathan Brad Augustine, the program director of an Adidas-sponsored teen basketball program – as saying he expected Adidas to fund future bribes to the student in part because of the company’s relationship to a coach at the school.
“No one swings a bigger d— than [Coach-2]” at Adidas, the agent described Augustine as saying. The complaint did not identify the coach.
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Pitino said in a statement on Tuesday that he was shocked by the allegations, which also ensnared several other major men’s basketball programs.
“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 basketball programs, including the University of Louisville,” Pitino’s statement said in part.
Many people began calling for Pitino’s firing or resignation as it became clear that Louisville had been implicated in the FBI investigation.
Rick Pitino every day pic.twitter.com/rTgHqg5mPA
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) September 26, 2017
Idk how Rick Pitino survives this new scandal for Louisville. It's time for him to go and for Louisville to be banned for the NCAA tourney
— Tyler Willis (@Tylerwillis21) September 27, 2017
Rick Pitino trying to explain the latest Louisville basketball scandal tomorrow pic.twitter.com/BAl8owoVTr
— Tyler Shields (@tylershields11) September 27, 2017
In 2016, Pitino was punished for a prostitution scandal in which Louisville staffers paid for the services of escorts for recruits and players. In June, the NCAA put Louisville on four years of probation and suspended Pitino for five games for failing to properly oversee the program.