Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pitino put on leave amid federal investigation

Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Interim university President Greg Postel said at a news conference Wednesday that Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach's attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal that Louisville has "effectively fired" Pitino.

Pitino's exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men's program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

it is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions handed out in June following an escort scandal that unfolded nearly two years ago, which could cost the school its 2013 national title.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director's nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Pitino, 65, was 416-143 over 16 years at Louisville, including that 2013 NCAA championship.

In the latest investigation, federal prosecutors say at least three top high school recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000, using money supplied by Adidas, to attend two universities sponsored by the athletic shoe company. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify one of them as Louisville.

Pitino is not named in the federal documents, though the school acknowledged it is under investigation by the FBI.

"These allegations come as a complete shock to me," the coach said in a statement Tuesday night. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney's Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable."

Louisville was already reeling from the sex scandal. The program has been ordered to vacate up to 123 victories in which ineligible players received improper benefits -- a period that includes the 2013 title, its third -- along with the 2012 Final Four appearance. The NCAA also placed the school on four years' probation and ordered the return of money received through conference revenue sharing. McGee received a 10-year, show-cause penalty.

Pitino is 770-271 over a 32-year coaching career with stops at Hawaii, Boston, Providence and Kentucky, where he won the 1996 NCAA title. He has also coached in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

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