Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been advised by the NCAA not to address the scandal that has rocked the Cardinals basketball program, with allegations of a paid escort service that throwing parties and “shows” for Louisville basketball players and prospective student-athletes during the recruiting process.
But earlier this week, Pitino delivered a passionate message to UL fans at a luncheon to stress his deepest concerns with the allegations: why Louisville, if any of the book is true, would be a program where such advantages are needed.
“So I always figure out, when times get tough, the ‘why’ element. I know the other side of the story, I know why they’re coming out with a book and I know exactly why. On our end of the thing, I don’t get the why. It doesn’t make any sense,” Pitino said.
The source of these allegations is a recently released book, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen, with first-hand accounts from Katrina Powell, a former escort in Louisville.
Pitino pointed to the success that Louisville has had with unheralded recruits in his questioning of motivation for the alleged violations.
“See we’ve been successful here with Russ Smith being a two-star basketball player. Gorgui Dieng was not a top 60 [player] now starting for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Terry Rozier wasn’t top 50 in the nation; 16th draft pick to the Celtics. Kyle Kuric and Larry O’Bannon came here as walk-ons and left as celebrated athletes. Now the difficult thing, the why part, and I don’t have any answers for it.”
Pitino proceeded to detail his own personal experience with the scandal; Minardi Hall, where most of the alleged contact between escorts and recruits took place, is named after Pitino’s brother-in-law who died in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Throughout the 18-minute address Pitino agreed there will be punishment if the allegations are found to be true, but does not understand “the why’s.”
“We will find the truth, whatever that may be, and people will pay the price for any wrongdoing that might occur,” Pitino said. “I know the why’s from the other end. Don’t know the why’s from our end. Still can’t figure it out. No matter how little sleep I get, no matter how much my mind wanders at night, I know what the University of Louisville is all about. I know what Tom Jurich is all about. And without praising myself, when it comes to NCAA rules, I know what I’m all about.”
Louisville president James Ramsey offered his full support for athletic director Tom Jurich in his only official statement on the scandal, announcing that the school is cooperating with the NCAA to investigate the allegations.
You can watch Pitino’s full address below, via The Crunch Zone.