It was reported on Wednesday that Rick Pitino was fired as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team.
The decision comes in the wake of an FBI investigation that alleged financial advisers, coaches, and agents bribed college basketball players and their families. Pitino denies the charges, and according to one source, claims that the FBI allegations came as a complete surprise.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” Pitino said in a statement released Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. “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.”
Coaches and Adidas executives are accused of funneling at least $100,000 to the family of a high school athlete to gain his commitment to play at Louisville and to sign with Adidas once he became a professional. So far, the player's name hasn't been released, yet some sources have speculated.
According to the Washington Post, this isn't the first time that Pitino has been bogged down in a scandal. In 2009, Pitino admitted that he had sexual relations with the wife of his team's equipment manager. And in 2015, a former Cardinals staffer arranged strippers and prostitutes to have sex with players and recruits in the team's dormitory. Both of these allegations Pitino was able to overcome, but the most recent ones — that he allegedly bribed players and their families — he couldn't.
Pitino's firing came after 16 seasons, three Final Four appearances, and one national championship in Louisville. Today's news also ends a career that earned him a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. This report also leaves one of the nation's largest basketball powerhouses on unstable ground days before practice was about to begin for the new season, one in which the Cardinals were expected to be a top team.
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