Rick Pitino survived some of the most tasteless of scandals during his tenure as coach of the Louisville men’s basketball team, first a 2009 extortion attempt during which he admitted to having sexual relations with the wife of his team’s equipment manager! Then you had a 2015 scandal in which a former Cardinals staffer arranged for strippers and prostitutes to have sex with players and recruits in the team’s dormitory. Even after all of that Pitino’s job at Louisville was still safe! How you might ask? I have no idea other than the fact that he won a lot of games and the NCAA never seemed to take it that serious.
Unfortunately for Rick Pitino he could not survive allegations that, in the grand scheme of college basketball scandals, barely rise above sordid: That an executive from Adidas, which outfits the Cardinals athletic teams, and others conspired to steer top recruits to Louisville via six-figure payments to their families, in one instance enlisting the aid of one of Pitino’s assistants. Those allegations, unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York after a years-long undercover investigation by the FBI, proved to be Pitino’s undoing.
Where does the Louisville program go from here? A lot of that will depend on the NCAA and how much of an example they want to make out of the Cardinals program. In the end the legacy of Pitino has been forever destroyed as it rightfully should be. The question for College Basketball becomes what else does the FBI know and how bad and far-reaching does the FBI investigation become, your guess is as good as mine and my guess is that we haven’t seen the worst of this yet!
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