Louisville Cardinals

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Indictment document alleges Rick Pitino knew about payment to recruit

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With eight of the ten men arrested in late September in relation to an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball officially being indicted this week, the files associated with those indictments were unsealed on Wednesday. Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is not one of those individuals, but in the recently unreleased documents his alleged role in recruits receiving payments in exchange for their committing to Louisville is detailed.

According to those documents, obtained by Tom Winter of NBC News, “Coach-2” not only knew of the payments being made in an attempt to land recruits but said coach was directly involved as well. Last month it was alleged that Pitino, who was relieved of his duties as Louisville head coach in early October, was “Coach-2” in the FBI documents.

This excerpt from the unsealed indictment documents is of particular interest in relation to Pitino:

“Specifically, (defendant Christian) Dawkins explained that while Coach-2 and the University of Louisville were recruiting the student-athlete Dawkins asked Coach-2 to call James Gatto, a/k/a “Jim,” the defendant, to request that Company-1 (adidas) provide the money requested by the family of the student-athlete, which Coach-2 agreed to do.”

Pitino and his lawyer have denied any wrongdoing on the part of the coach, but that was not enough to keep Louisville from moving to fire the Hall of Famer with cause. Pitino, who was placed on unpaid administrative leave when the allegations first came to light, was one of two important individuals within the Louisville athletic department to leave their positions with athletic director Tom Jurich being the other.

Pitino filed a federal lawsuit against adidas in mid October, and it was reported around that time that Louisville offered the coach a $1.5 million settlement.

Louisville being linked to the ongoing FBI investigation was the latest blow to a program that has yet to be punished for NCAA rules violations involving the payment of strippers to entertain recruits by former staffer Andre McGee. Louisville met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in mid-June, with it being alleged in FBI documents that just over a month after that meeting a Louisville coach was looking to negotiate a payment for a player.

Freshman wing Brian Bowen, whose recruitment was detailed in another portion of the report released in late September, has not been participating in any team activities as the school looks for answers regarding Bowen’s NCAA eligibility. Bowen’s family hired an attorney in early October as they look to get the five-star prospect back on the court.

Report: FBI gives Louisville go-ahead to do its own Bowen investigation

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The FBI has given Louisville the green light to begin its own investigation into the eligibility of freshman guard Brian Bowen now that there are no “investigative impediments” regarding him from the federal government’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, according the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Bowen, a five-star guard, has been at the center of Louisville’s corner of the scandal rocking college basketball as allegations regarding his recruitment ultimately led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. An adidas company executive is alleged to have been part of a scheme to deliver $100,000 to Bowen’s family, according to court documents.

The FBI had initially asked school ensnared in the federal investigation to hold off making their own inquiries  until its investigation completed. Louisville will now have to determine whether or not it believes Bowen is eligible under NCAA rules if he is to play for the Cardinals.

“Brian and I are excited with this development and look forward to working with the university and the NCAA to clarify any concerns or issues that they have in furtherance of Brian’s prompt return to competition,” Jason Setchen, Bowen’s attorney, told the Courier-Journal.

One possibility is that Louisville will take the same step Auburn, who had an assistant coach arrested as part of the FBI’s probe,  took, sitting Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy indefinitely while it tries to sort through the situation.

Bowen’s eligibility and availability will be of immense importance to Louisville, which despite losing Pitino, still has a roster loaded with talent and championship aspirations that undoubtedly would be bolstered by adding a 6-foot-7 McDonald’s All-American forward.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” interim Cardinals coach David Padgett said at the team’s media day. “We have to let that situation work itself out.”

Rick Pitino files federal lawsuit against adidas

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Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino’s quest to prove that he had nothing to do with the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball produced another development on Tuesday. As first reported by ESPN’s Jay Bilas, Pitino has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Louisville with adidas being the lone defendant.

Per media reports, Pitino is suing the company for its “outrageous conduct in conspiring to funnel money to the family of a college basketball recruit.”

Adidas’ connection to the ongoing criminal investigation is that two of its employees within the basketball department, Jim Gatto and Merl Code, were among the ten people arrested. While no one directly tied to Louisville has been charged, FBI documents revealed connections between members of the basketball program and the accused parties.

As a result of the investigation Louisville freshman small forward Brian Bowen is being withheld from all basketball activities by the school. Bowen and his family have since hired an attorney in an attempt to get the freshman reinstated.

Among the instances of wrongdoing documented by the FBI was a transaction in which $100,000 was paid in exchange for a recruit committing to attend Louisville. The timeline of the events were close to Bowen’s commitment timeline, with the five-star prospect announcing that he would attend Louisville in early June.

As a result of the investigation Pitino was placed on unpaid by Louisville, with the school’s Board of Regents voting unanimously to fire the head coach with cause on Monday.

Report: Pitino received 98 percent of cash in Louisville’s deal with adidas

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It turns out that adidas’ last deal with Louisville was mostly just a deal with coach Rick Pitino, at least in the money that changed hands.

Pitino received 98 percent of cash provided by the apparel company in its deal with the school, according to a report from the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In 2015-16, Pitino received $1.5 million from adidas from his personal services agreement while only $25,000 went to the athletic department, according to the Courier-Journal, which obtained the contract under a public records request. In 2014-15, Pitino again received $1.5 million, but the school pocketed just $10,000.

That deal, which was reportedly worth $39 million over five years,  between adidas and Louisville expires this July, at which time a 10-year, $160 million contract kicks in. How much of the money, reportedly $79 million in cash over 10 years with the rest of the balance coming in gear, provided by the new agreement would go to coaches is uncertain, according to the Courier-Journal.

Adidas’ agreements with Louisville are under new and intensified scrutiny after 10 people were charged after a federal probe into corruption in college basketball. One of those was adidas employee Jim Gatto, who is accused of conspiring to pay $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to facilitate him attending Louisville. That recruit is presumed to be Brian Bowen, who later committed and enrolled at the school.

Pitino was effectively fired by the school last week amid the fallout from the scandal.

 

Rick Pitino: ‘I’ve lost faith in NCAA’

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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, highly critical of the punishments handed down to him and his program by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

“For 35 some odd years, I’ve had a lot of faith in the NCAA and have reacted that way accordingly as a head basketball coach; in the belief of their rules,” Pitino said. “I’ve thought that in the recent past they’ve made some great adjustments to the rules that have helped players along the way. I feel now like everybody here that not only is it unjust, unfair, over-the-top severe, but I’ve personally lost a lot of faith in the NCAA and everything I’ve stood for in the last 35 years with what they just did.”

Pitino would go on to say he is putting his faith in the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.

Currently, Pitino is suspended for the first five ACC games of the 2017-18 season. However, the program has to vacate 108 games during the span of Dec. 2010 through July 2014. That would include the 2013 national championship victory over Michigan.

Louisville will appeal the committee’s ruling.

Report: NCAA affirms its Louisville allegations

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The NCAA continues to hold the position that Louisville coach Rick Pitino failed to properly monitor the program amid the scandal surrounding a former staffer and illicit parties, according to documents obtained by ESPN.

Louisville received the notice of allegations from the NCAA in January, and In its response, Louisville did not deny the NCAA’s findings, but argued that Pitino should not have been seen as failing to monitor Andre McGee, who is alleged to have organized the gatherings at Minardi Hall on the Louisville campus.

McGee is alleged to have paid for women to dance for and perform sex acts on Cardinals recruits.

The NCAA stated that Pitino “did not uphold his duties as head coach and in doing so, failed to discover” McGee’s actions and that if he “saw no red flags in connection with McGee’s interactions with then prospective student-athletes, it was because he was not looking for them,” according to ESPN’s report.

The original allegations were made by Katina Powell in a book that was published in 2015.

Louisville self-imposed a 2016 postseason ban and scholarship reductions as part of the scandal, but was looking to avoid further punishment on Pitino, who could be subject to suspension.