Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has filed lawsuits against Adidas America, Inc. and Adidas North America, Inc. claiming damages caused by the company's bribing of recruits, reports ESPN's Jay Bilas.
The crux of Pitino's lawsuit is the coach's assertion that he had no knowledge of Adidas' alleged bribes, and the their corrupt activity resulted in his firing, which was made official Monday.
Last month, the F.B.I. announced that 10 individuals—including four assistant coaches for Division I programs—had been arrested after a two-year probe revealed rampant corruption and bribery in recruiting practices. No individual coach at Louisville was named in the F.B.I.'s findings, but the university is mentioned in a complaint against Jim Gatto, the former head of global sports marketing for Adidas basketball.
In an affidavit submitted to Louisville's board in a meeting on Monday to discuss his firing, Pitino said, per ESPN:
"I had no part -- active, passive, or through willful ignorance -- in the conspiracy described in the complaint. 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. 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."
In the document, Gatto and two accomplices (Merl Code and Munish Sood) are accused of funneling $100,000 through a Louisville coach to five-star recruit Brian Bowen to secure his commitment to the university. A Louisville coach referred to in the suit as "Coach-2" is accused of calling Gatto to ask for more money to bribe Bowen. Coach-2 is believed to be Pitino, though the coach has denied knowing anything of the alleged scheme.
Pitino told the The Courier-Journal after the scandal went public that he believes he "will be vindicated." Despite his seemingly steadfast belief in his own innocence, Pitino was first put on unpaid disciplinary suspension and then fired for "just cause" by Louisville, which would allow the university to abstain from paying the remainder of Pitino's contract.
Adidas released the following statement regarding Pitino's lawsuit, via ESPN's Darren Rovell:
"Mr. Pitino's lawsuit is clearly a reaction to his termination yesterday and is without merit."
At Louisville, Pitino was one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball with an annual salary topping $7 million. Notably, a good portion of Pitino's salary was paid by Adidas, which is the official sponsor of Louisville athletics. The overwhelming majority—98 percent—of the money Adidas owed Louisville from a $39 million endorsement deal ended up in Pitino's pocket, per The Courier-Journal. In 2014–15 and 2015–16, Pitino was paid $1.5 million by Adidas each year, while the basketball program got $10,000 the first year and $25,000 the next year. In 2015-16, Adidas reportedly paid Pitino $2.25 million.