By Matthew Keck —
The University of Louisville Athletic Association can finally close the Rick Pitino chapter after almost two years in court.
“It’s a terrific day to get this behind us, and I’m sure the other side feels the same,” said Vince Tyra, U of L athletic director.
The ULAA board of trustees approved a settlement between the two parties on Sept. 18. The settlement comes eight days after both sides met for nine hours at the Louisville federal courthouse discussing the matter.
As part of the settlement Pitino will receive no money from U of L, but his personnel file will be changed to reflect that his employment ended in resignation. Both sides have agreed to dismiss their claims they filed against each other back in 2017.
U of L and Pitino issued a joint statement accompanying the announcement:
“For 17 years, Coach Pitino ran a program that combined excellence on the court with a commitment to the program’s student athletes, their academic achievement, and their futures in and out of basketball. Nevertheless, there were NCAA infractions during his term which led to serious consequences for the University. Although these infractions may not have occurred at Coach Pitino’s direction or with his knowledge, the problems leading to the NCAA infractions happened under his leadership. We thank Coach Pitino for his years of service to the University of Louisville basketball program and wish him well.”
U of L fired Pitino on Oct. 16, 2017, for just cause, negative press, contract violations and lack of supervision and compliance. This came shortly after Pitino and his staff were involved in a national recruiting scandal that is still being investigated by NCAA.
Pitino filed his lawsuit on Nov. 30, 2017, seeking almost $40 million from the university. He cited that he was still owed the salary remaining on his contract that was set to expire in June 2026 and that U of L had no right to fire him because he was unaware of the escort scandal that happened in 2013.
This argument failed to hold up with NCAA’s findings that Pitino failed to monitor his program, thus he was in violation of his 2015 contract.
On Dec. 13, 2017, U of L countersued Pitino for monetary damages incurring from the vacation of NCAA games, including the 2013 Final Four and National Championship appearances. U of L was seeking to receive any bonuses or compensation wrongly paid to Pitino for his NCAA appearances.
Pitino made six NCAA Elite Eight and three Final Four appearances in his 17 seasons with U of L. After the escort scandal U of L was forced to vacate 123 wins along with their 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Championship banners.
“Rick accomplished a lot here as head coach and our record books do show that,” Tyra said. “And although there will be asterisks there at times, he’s done quite a bit. So I don’t know if I would say we’ve washed our hands of Rick Pitino.”
Tyra said that this settlement has no impact on the NCAA’s current investigation with the university.
U of L and Pitino ultimately came to this agreement to avoid expenses and uncertainty litigation. In their agreement it states that neither party admits to liability or unlawful conduct during this litigation.
“We were solid in our stance from the beginning that this was zero liability for us,” Tyra said. “I think it was a terrific outcome for the university.”
This settlement will not be official until the federal judge overseeing the case approves the terms of it.
File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal