Rick Pitino Is Fired by Louisville After Another Scandal

Pitino was inducted into the basketball hall of fame in 2013, recognition for a four-decade coaching career in college basketball and the N.B.A. With 770 wins over parts of 32 seasons, Pitino ranks 12th on the Division I victories list — although that figure could change pending the appeal of the N.C.A.A. sanctions announced in June. He is also the only college coach to win national titles with two different colleges, Kentucky and Louisville — although that distinction, too, could change if Louisville is forced to vacate its 2013 championship.

The reason for the potential erasure of potentially dozens of his wins at Louisville, and his second N.C.A.A. championship, are allegations, some of which Louisville has accepted, that a former basketball staff member who had played under Pitino hired prostitutes to entertain recruits and players in an on-campus dormitory.

While the N.C.A.A. has vacated victories and even Final Four appearances, it has never before stripped a championship from the winner of its signature annual tournament.

While in that case the N.C.A.A. accepted Pitino’s explanation that he had no knowledge of the actions of the assistant found to be responsible, it nonetheless found that he had failed in his broader obligation to monitor his staff. Pitino and Louisville have disputed that conclusion, which led to his suspension, pending appeal, for the first five games of Atlantic Coast Conference play this season.

Tuesday’s federal charges, which also implicated the global marketing director for Adidas basketball, four assistant coaches at other Division I programs and several other men involved in college basketball, detailed a scheme to funnel money to two prospects in order to attend a university whose description matches Louisville, and of doing so with the knowledge of two unnamed coaches at the school. It was not clear whether the man the complaint calls Coach-2, who is characterized as having significant leverage at Adidas (which sponsors Louisville), is Pitino.

Born in New York City and raised on Long Island, Pitino never lost the thick accent he earned during a childhood in region, and first made his name with an improbable Final Four run with Providence in 1987. His career also included less-successful stints in the N.B.A., with the Knicks and the Boston Celtics.

But most notably he revived the two beloved college programs in the Bluegrass State, first leading the University of Kentucky, starting in 1989, out of heavy N.C.A.A. sanctions and to three Final Fours, including the 1996 national title, and then leading the Cardinals to three Final Fours and another national title.

The fact that Pitino was not fired outright could be financial. Pitino, according to a USA Today database, is the nation’s highest-paid college basketball coach at more than $7.7 million a year, and his contract includes language that gives him 10 days to contest a firing for cause.

That contract runs through 2026, meaning Pitino is potentially owed tens of millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and benefits.

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Source: New York Times



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