The release of former Adidas consultant Merl Code’s book Black Market—which claims that former Louisville coach Rick Pitino had knowledge of and authorized payments to players’ families—caused the NCAA’s Complex Case Unit to issue additional formal allegations of infractions against Pitino, claiming that he offered a $100,000 payment to the father of former recruit Brian Bowen in 2017.
Pitino, now the head coach at Iona College, has denied the claims, per USA TODAY‘s Tim Sullivan.
Code was eventually convicted—along with former Adidas employee James Gatto and business manager Christian Dawkins—in October ’18 on felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Code wrote that he was acting at the behest of his superiors and Pitino, who instructed him to provide “help” in securing Bowen’s commitment.
“As a consultant for Adidas, I did not act on my own, nor could I have done so,” Code wrote. “I simply ran the proposition by my bosses, who did the same after consulting with Rick Pitino, and the answer that came back from up high was, ‘Rick wants our help. Get it done.’”
Pitino has denied Code’s allegations and claims to have never met him.
In a response to the allegations, Louisville has posited that Code’s account of what happened should be discredited, as his felony conviction and personal interest in driving book sales make him unreliable.
“Including sensational allegations in his book, regardless of their accuracy, is an obvious path to goose book sales (and Code’s earnings) and, perhaps in the eyes of some, lessen his culpability for the crimes he committed and rehabilitate his image,” the school said in a statement, per USA TODAY.
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