Louisville fires Pitino 'with just cause' amid investigation

Oct 16, 2017 - 8:06 PM The University of Louisville's athletic board voted unanimously Monday to fire Rick Pitino as men's basketball head coach in the wake of an FBI investigation into fraud and corruption in college basketball.

The University of Louisville Athletic Association voted to terminate Pitino's contract "with just cause" despite an argument from Pitino's lawyers. The board voted unanimously two weeks ago to initiate the process of dismissing Pitino for cause.

The Hall of Fame coach was placed on unpaid administrative leave following a brief face-to-face meeting with interim president Gregory Postel on Sept. 27.

Postel made the announcement Monday, saying that Pitino's "actions and inactions" warranted his termination for cause.

"We felt our initial decision ... was in the best interest of the university," Postel said, referring to the board's vote to move forward with Pitino's termination. "We have to do what's best for the university."

Pitino, in an affidavit presented Monday to the athletics board, said he "had no part -- active, passive or through willful ignorance" in the activities alleged in an FBI investigation.

Pitino did not attend the meeting, but his lawyers submitted an affidavit on his behalf.

"I do not dispute ULAA's right to terminate my employment at its discretion," Pitino's affidavit stated. "But I vehemently reject its right to do so 'for cause.' I have given no 'cause' for termination of my contract."

The FBI announced on Sept. 26 that 10 men -- including four assistant coaches and a top Adidas executive -- were charged with crimes relating to the investigation.

Louisville announced the next day it was informed the university was a focal point of the FBI investigation.

Pitino repeatedly said he was not aware of the fraud and corruption charges that brought the FBI to the campus as part of a national probe launched by the United States Department of Justice.

The allegations against Louisville include payments of $100,000 to the family of an unnamed player to sign with the Cardinals. The player is believed to be five-star freshman Brian Bowen, who committed to Louisville in early June. Bowen was suspended indefinitely shortly after the FBI announced the results of the investigation.

One of the most successful college basketball coaches in history, Pitino, 65, was 416-143 in 16 seasons as Louisville head coach and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with 770 career victories.

Already on probation for a scandal involving strippers and escorts entertaining recruits and other players in dorm rooms -- Pitino also said last year he was unaware of those actions -- the Louisville basketball program could face severe NCAA penalties depending on the outcome of the current investigation.

"I had no reason to know about the conspiracy described in the complaint, and no reason to know about the complicity of any UL assistant coach or staff member in any bribery conspiracy," Pitino said in the affidavit presented Monday to the Louisville athletic board.

"I never have had any part -- active, passive, or through willful ignorance -- in any effort, successful or unsuccessful, completed or abandoned, to pay any recruit, or any family member of a recruit, or anyone else on a recruit's behalf, as an inducement to attend UL."

Pitino reportedly stands to lose the $44 million remaining in salary and bonuses on his contract through the 2025-26 season since he was fired with cause. He was the highest paid coach in college basketball this year at $7.8 million, which includes a retention bonus and his personal Adidas contract, according to USA Today.






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