By Matt Bradshaw
It has not been a good month for ex-basketball coach Rick Pitino.
The Hall of Famer was placed on administrative leave at the end of September, fired by the athletic board “for cause” and terminated from a multi-million-dollar personal services agreement with adidas.
Pitino has disputed every action against him.
“This is your life,” Pitino said. “This is your passion and you don’t want your life taken and pulled away from you. There’s only been one school rushed to judgement and took the coach away from these players and that’s Louisville.”
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Jay Bilas Oct. 18, Pitino discussed events leading to the scandal revolving around money funneled to recruits and his eventual ousting from the university.
On multiple occasions during the interview, Pitino referred to taking a lie detector test as a way of claiming he was not aware that recruit Brian Bowen received payments of $100,000, as alleged. The 65-year-old told Bilas that “one of the toughest things you have to do – and I hope you never do it – is take a lie detector test.”
“I was asked two questions,” Pitino said. “Did you have any knowledge of the Bowen family getting any money? Did you have any knowledge of the adidas transaction?”
“I answered ‘absolutely not’ on both questions and passed the lie detector test. So, I had no knowledge of any of this.”
Pitino also denied that Jim Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for basketball at adidas, ever helped Louisville sign players by funneling money to their families.
“I knew Jim Gatto better through his dad … and I think [he’s] a wonderful man,” Pitino said. “He never once said ‘I’m going to help you out and pay a kid money,’ or do anything like that. Never even brought up anything like that.”
Such information might be hard to swallow for Louisville fans. Pitino has accomplished a great deal for the U of L, but this is the second time the New Yorker has claimed he had no knowledge of alleged activities occurring behind the scenes.
Rick says he takes “full responsibility” for any staff member he hired that initiated alleged activities, but also emphasized that he thoroughly vetted his assistant coaches.
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