Source: If Pitino Named In FBI Case, Louisville Could Have Grounds To Void His Contract
Rick Pitino is described as "Coach 2" in the FBI's college hoops investigation, which would place him as a "central figure in the recruitment sting operation" and "likely allows" Louisville to fire Pitino without paying the $46M remaining on his contract, according to a source cited in a front-page piece by Bailey, Johnson & Wolfson of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Pitino's attorney Steve Pence "reiterated that Pitino did nothing wrong." The revelation about Pitino, who was placed on administrative leave amid the scandal, is significant because it reinforces UL's "deep ties to Adidas" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29). In Louisville, Andrew Wolfson notes "Coach 2" is described as "central in the allegation that money was funneled to recruits and their families to secure their commitment" to UL (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29). UL interim President Greg Postel on Thursday said that the university has "not launched its own internal investigation into the fresh allegations of bribery and other improprieties yet, nor has he been interviewed or contacted by the FBI." He added that the school will "seek guidance on the appropriate way to conduct its own inquiry" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29). Also in Louisville, Danielle Lerner notes several of UL's coaches have "received minimal direction and clarity from the administration," which has yet to name an interim AD after placing Tom Jurich on administrative leave. Baseball coach Dan McDonnell said that he has "not received an email or phone call from anyone in the athletic department" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29).
TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: Louisville Arena Authority Chair Scott Cox said that despite the scandal, they are "moving forward with a plan to refinance" KFC Yum! Center's bonds to "save tens of millions before interest rates increase." Cox said that the "turmoil surrounding the university's athletics department is a short-term concern." Cox: "We're married to the university, and their success is our success. And yes, this is something where we are recalculating potential debt payments, we're looking at all different contingencies now as a result of what's happened in the last two days." In Louisville, Phillip Bailey notes if UL hoops sees a "drop off in attendance," it could jeopardize the arena. Even before the FBI investigation became public, KFC Yum! Center "struggled to generate enough revenue to keep up with its debt payments." The venue "relies on that revenue" to pay off its $690M construction bonds (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29). Also in Louisville, Joseph Gerth writes it may "sound counterintuitive," but now is the time for UL fans and alumni to "rally around their athletic teams, their academic programs, the students and faculty." The future of the school and the city "depends on it." Gerth: "Failure of the Yum Center -- which is a very real possibility if folks stop attending Louisville basketball games -- hurts us all" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29).
RISE & FALL: In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes in many of the most meaningful ways, Jurich was "absolutely terrific at his job." His legacy at UL will include "broad-based competitive success, a high percentage of distinguished hires, a striking set of new structures" and the "stability of membership" in the ACC. Yet for all of his accomplishments, and for all of the "unflagging loyalty he showed and has earned, Jurich’s personal style could be problematic." Operating with "virtual autonomy and a damn-the-torpedoes approach, he made numerous enemies by his bullying and combative statements that proved counterproductive." He was sometimes "dismissive of fair criticism and legitimate concerns and more than once exposed his program to potential embarrassment by reacting to red flags as if they were green lights" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/29).
CUT YOUR LOSSES? In Virginia, David Teel writes under the header, "ACC Should Sanction Louisville For Continued Scandals." This is about a "mountain of corruption" at UL that "extends from the president’s office, to the university foundation to the athletic department." Given recent trials at Syracuse, North Carolina and Miami, "surely the league is scandal-weary." The ACC has "never dumped a member, but if ever a case warranted strong consideration, this is it" (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 9/29).