Rick Pitino has reportedly been fired following an FBI investigation that implicated the Cardinals’ program in the payment of a high-profile recruit.
Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich are out in the wake of the school’s latest scandal, the school announced Wednesday.
Officially, Pitino has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and Jurich is on paid leave, moves that appear to be a mere technicality before they are officially dismissed.
Pitino indicated to his staff in a meeting Wednesday morning that he expected to be fired, ESPN’s Michael Eaves reports. Eaves quoted a source as saying Pitino “knows it’s coming.”
WAVE-TV’s Kent Taylor reported that Jurich refused to fire Pitino and both were let go.
The move comes one day after the Department of Justice charged 10 people in conjunction with a corruption and fraud scheme and implicated the Cardinals program in the illegal payment of a recruit.
Pitino had a very brief meeting—less than five minutes—with the school’s interim president late Wednesday morning and was clearly emotional as he left the room.
Pitino was already suspended for the first five ACC games of this season after an investigation into the program’s high-profile escort case. The FBI released evidence that a Louisville assistant coach had planned to send $100,000 to the father of an All-American recruit, believed to be freshman forward Brian Bowen.
One Cardinals player—presumably Bowen—is being withheld from all NCAA activities, Louisville interim president Greg Postel said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
According to ESPN's Dick Vitale, Pitino and assistant coach David Padgett met with the team, and Padgett will take control of the team until Louisville names a new head coach.
The program’s apparent violation is the latest in a list of scandals surrounding Pitino and the program. In 2016, it came to light that an escort service had been paid by the program to have sex with prospective basketball players and their family members, a recruiting ploy organized by former director of basketball operations Andre McGee.
Pitino received his suspension accordingly and the program was hit with scholarship sanctions and record vacations, but he refused to take responsibility for it and claimed his own innocence.
Named in the FBI’s report was Adidas representative James Gatto, who worked directly with grassroots and college programs and is accused of paying high school players to go to Adidas sponsored schools for the benefit of signing with the company at a later time.
In Louisville’s case, the player has been determined to be Bowen, an elite recruit who committed in June to end a protracted decision process. The indictment suggests Gatto worked with former NBA agent Christian Dawkins and investment advisor Munish Sood to arrange payment for Bowen’s family and his commitment.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York also laid out charges for four college assistant coaches in a Tuesday press conference, saying the scheme is the "dark belly" of college basketball.
Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Emanuel "Book" Richardson of Arizona and USC assistant Tony Bland and six others have each been charged in the corruption and fraud scheme.
In 2009, Pitino was part of a well-publicized extortion battle with a woman he admitted to having sex with in 2003, who claimed he paid her to have an abortion.
His on court resume—a career record of 416–141 and two NCAA titles, one with Louisville in 2013—has been outstanding, but the background of his coaching career continues to grow murkier.