Rick Pitino: I’ll sit out or work for free to get Louisville in NCAA Tournament

Louisville coach Rick Pitino did not show up to ACC media day because of the ongoing investigation into allegations of improper recruiting practices, including the use of escorts, within the basketball program. But since the school announced a self-imposed postseason ban for this season, keeping the current squad from the ACC or NCAA tournament, Pitino has been on the interview circuit.

First there was an extensive discussion with Sports Illustrated and on Tuesday, just hours after a hard-fought loss to Duke to Cameron Indoor Stadium, Pitino was on with ESPN’s Mike & Mike to discuss the self-imposed punishment.

“The system is broken,” Pitino said, via ESPN Radio. “We need a president to step up right now and change this system. We see years of investigating. Schools need to be fined heavily, and they can’t take that money from any other program. Coaches need to get their salaries deducted, 20, 30, 40 percent whatever.

“I’d work for free if we could have the NCAA Tournament for these guys.”

In the course of the interview Pitino also offered to “sit out” if it meant Louisville could play in the postseason, and he apologized for “not knowing” about the alleged violations.

Pitino’s offer comes from a place of sympathy, especially for fifth-year seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, players who had to attend the ACC’s media day without a coach and face questions about the escort scandal. But his offer ignores the fact the ban was not handed down from the NCAA but self-imposed by the school.

Louisville’s decision to self-impose a postseason ban came after a meeting with the NCAA regarding the ongoing investigation triggered by allegations of a self-described madam who wrote a book last fall detailing numerous alleged incidents with paid dancers and escorts who involved themselves with Louisville basketball players and recruits from 2010-14.

Lee, Lewis and many of the Cardinals impacted by this punishment were not even connected to the program during these alleged violations, and as Gary Parrish pointed out in his column on the ban, that stinks.

Rick Pitino offered to sit out or work for free instead of a postseason ban. (USATSI)

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