The overwhelming majority of the money from Louisville’s multimillion-dollar deal with Adidas was paid to head coach Rick Pitino, according to a review of the contract conducted by The Courier-Journal.
Of the $39 million Adidas owed to Louisville on their original deal signed in 2014, 98% of the money ended up in Pitino’s pocket. (That five-year deal will expire in July but the sides have already signed a new 10-year, $160 million pact to kick in after that includes $79 million in cash.) In 2014–15 and 2015–16, Pitino was paid $1.5 million each year, while the basketball program got $10,000 the first year and $25,000 the next year.
Pitino’s pay from Adidas was no secret—USA Today noted last year in its coaching salary database that he was paid $2.25 by Adidas in 2016–17—but the comparison between his compensation and the athletic department’s share of the revenue is staggering.
Pitino’s relationship with Adidas dates back more than a decade. ESPN identified him as “one of Adidas’ highest-paid coach endorsers” in 2004. Recent revelations about the seedy aspects of that relationship have led to his impending dismissal, though.
Louisville and Pitino were implicated in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, with the Cardinals program at the center of some of the most serious allegations. The feds allege that Pitino helped orchestrate a $100,000 payment to incoming Louisville freshman Brian Bowen, facilitated by Adidas officials.
Pitino was placed on unpaid leave shortly after the scandal broke and the school’s board officially voted to fire him earlier this week.