It’s time for Rick Pitino to step down as the head basketball coach at the University of Louisville.
It’s time because neither option regarding the current scandal surrounding the basketball program presents a very pleasant picture for Pitino.
Either he is lying and knew all.
Or he is sadly unaware of what happened on his watch, which might be even more egregious.
The news is unsettling, to say the least, but certainly not surprising. If you think what happened at Louisville is breaking new ground in recruiting, think again. The scandal is based on allegations by five former recruits and a former escort, who say former Louisville assistant coach Andre McGee paid strippers and escorts to attend parties with high school basketball recruits while they were on their visits to the school. In her new book, and in a vivid interview with ESPN, former escort Katina Powell alleges there were up to 20 such parties for recruits between 2010 and 2014.
And, to be clear, it wasn’t bible study. One of the recruits admitted to ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he did engage in sex with one of the strippers/escorts while attending a party on his recruiting visit to Louisville.
Now, again, you would be woefully naïve to think this doesn’t happen at other schools across big-time basketball and football programs. To paraphrase a legendary movie, you shouldn’t be shocked, shocked I say, to learn that this form or prostitution is taking place.
That still doesn’t make it right, nor does it take Pitino off the hook.
In the same story mentioned above, Pitino says he was unaware of the allegations. But his only comments on the matter ring hollow.
“I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and Yahoo! Sports in a conference call Tuesday. “There’s only one person who knows the truth, and he needs to come out and tell the truth to his teammates, to the University of Louisville, to his fans and to his coaches that have taught him to do the right thing for years and allowed him to be part of something special here. … “He’s the only one with any answers. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know.
I spoke to my nephew who lived in Minardi Hall, lived in the dorm, and he said he never saw anything the entire time he lived there. Obviously by what people are saying, something did go on, but there’s only one person who knows the truth. Everything else is absurd. I don’t care about the legal issues. If he’s done something wrong, he has to own up to it and do his penance.”
Andre McGee, welcome to the world of being thrown under a bus.
This is rich, coming from Pitino, coming from a man who used a restaurant to cheat on his wife. He admitted, years after the fact and only when confronted with an extortion bid, that he had consensual sex with Karen Sypher – then-wife of Louisville’s equipment manager – at a restaurant after the established had closed for the night, and later paid her $3,000 for an abortion when she claimed she was pregnant with his child.
Real choir boy, this coach.
That alone should have gotten Pitino fired. Yet here he is, again, receiving the backing of his athletic director while the school conducts an internal investigation. Maybe Pitino didn’t know. Maybe he had no clue that recruits and players were engaging in sex with strippers and escorts in an athletic dorm named after his brother-in-law who was killed on 9/11.
But he should have.
And that alone is why it’s time for him to go.