Rick Pitino disputes Louisville allegation that he thought DePaul might pay Brian Bowen $200,000

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The legal wranglings between Louisville and former coach Rick Pitino now include arguing over the meaning of text messages.

The University of Louisville Athletic Associated says in court documents that a 2017 message between Pitino and an assistant alleges that he knew about DePaul potentially paying $200,000 to prospect Brian Bowen while Pitino insists he was simply trafficking in gossip that he did not believe.

“DePaul trying to pay Bowen 200 k to come there,” the message, revealed in court documents, said. “Crazy world!”

Louisville alleges that the text message is evidence that “a reasonable factfinder could conclude that Pitino was aware of red flags regarding Dawkins’ and Gatto’s involvement in the Bowen recruitment, but that he intentionally failed to disclose those concerns to compliance staff rather than risk Bowen choosing a different school.” according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Pitino has another interpretation of the message

“I said to (assistant) Kenny Johnson on the phone: ‘I don’t believe a word of it. Where would DePaul get $200,000 to pay Brian Bowen?’” Pitino told the Louisville Courier Journal. “There’s no truth to what this guy said. He’s a nobody in the business. He hates DePaul, this guy. …

“There was no merit behind the thing. That’s why I never brought it to anybody. I get 20-30 text messages: ‘I heard UCLA is giving this. I heard Kansas is giving this.’ There’s no facts. I really didn’t think twice about it.”

The lawsuit stems from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, which alleges to have uncovered a plan executed by adidas to funnel $100,000 to Bowen to secure his commitment to one of its affiliated schools. Louisville fired Pitino in the fallout, and the Hall of Fame coach subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking the nearly $40 million that was remaining on his contract.

With that kind of money in question, the back and forth between Louisville and Pitino is nearly certain to be protracted and fierce. It also apparently will include debates about the true messages meant to be conveyed by text messages.