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Rick Pitino: Louisville should be fined, not banned

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino expressed his frustration with his team’s postseason ban after beating Boston College on Saturday afternoon.
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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino expressed his frustration with his team’s postseason ban after beating Boston College 79–47 on Saturday afternoon.

An emotional Pitino took the podium after a win he called “emotionally draining,” the day after the school announced its self-imposed punishment effective this season over an NCAA investigation into the team’s recruiting tactics. The NCAA is looking into a woman’s claims she and other women were paid thousands of dollars in exchange for having sex with Louisville players and recruits from 2010–14. The allegations come from a book written by Katina Powell, who says former Louisville director of basketball operations Andre McGee paid her and other escorts $10,000 to dance and have sex with players and potential recruits during that four-year period. 

Pitino said that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich was the one who called for the team to miss the NCAA and ACC tournaments, and that school president James Ramsey gave the OK. He reiterated that he had no idea what was going on during recruiting visits.

"We should be penalized, no question about it, but not this team," Pitino said. "But the NCAA didn't make that decision. We made that decision."

“Something should change,” Pitino told reporters. “People who are not involved should not be hit.”

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Pitino expressed a stance that the team’s punishment should come financially rather than by hurting the players and staff. He said he believes the NCAA’s system is wrong and that the university itself should be punished, and the coach’s pay docked as penance for the violations.

“We should be hit with a $10–15 million fine...that’s it,” Pitino said. “The way you hurt a university, the way you hurt a coach, is with your wallet.”

“My faith is in Tom Jurich,” he later added. “He’s a great AD. Did he hurt us? More than [we’ll] ever know, but he is a great leader...Dr. Ramsey is taking a lot of heat right now. He doesn’t need this heat.”

The punishment affects the team’s two fifth-year seniors, graduate transfers Damion Lee (the team’s leading scorer) and Trey Lewis, the hardest, ending their hopes of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Jeremy Woo