Indictment document alleges Rick Pitino knew about payment to recruit

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)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.