Louisville has announced the firing of men’s basketball head coach Rick Pitino, as well as Athletic Director Tom Jurich, amid rumors of involvement in fraud and corruption. Louisville is one of several schools currently under federal investigation regarding illegal recruiting tactics.
Tom Jurich just walked into U of L administration building alone. Lot of speculation that today could be it for he and Rick Pitino.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) September 27, 2017
The charges surrounding the Cardinals are allegedly based on the recruiting of Brian Bowen, ranked 19th in the country for the Class of 2017. It’s rumored that Louisville and James Gatto, a high-ranking Adidas official, funneled roughly $100,000 to Bowen’s family in return for his commitment to the school.
Of course, when asked about the charges, Pitino said they “come as a complete shock to me.” That stance is hard to believe given Pitino’s long history of scandalous drama.
Despite his history of possible recruiting violations, among other charges, Rick Pitino is one of the most decorated coaches in NCAA history. He has amassed 770 total wins as a head coach, including over 400 with Louisville. He’s been the head coach of the Cardinals since 2001, leading them to three Final Four appearances, winning the National Championship in 2013.
Prior to that, Pitino coached the Kentucky Wildcats, leading them to three Final Fours and a 1996 National Championship as well. He’s one of just six coaches in NCAA history with seven or more Final Four appearances, and one of 14 head coaches with multiple championship victories.
His impact on the game doesn’t end with his own accomplishments; several of Pitino’s former assistant coaches have gone on to have successful careers, including Billy Donovan (Florida Gators, Oklahoma City Thunder), Frank Vogel (Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic), and Tubby Smith (Kentucky Wildcats, Memphis Tigers).
As for Brian Bowen, if the federal investigation finds him guilty of accepting the money in the form of a bribe, he could lose his NCAA eligibility for this season, and possibly for his collegiate career. His best hope to still have an NBA career would likely be to leave Louisville and the NCAA and pursue a brief overseas career.
Louisville, an adidas school, paid $100,000 for the commitment of 5-star recruit Brian Bowen. https://t.co/RbYoitpDCx
— Griffin Whitmer (@GriffinWhitmer) September 26, 2017
Whether Rick Pitino is fired or not could have a big impact on the school’s sanctions, whether self-imposed or handed down by the NCAA. On top of that, it could drastically change their ability to recruit star prospects. To say the least, the future of Louisville basketball is very much up in the air.