Rick Pitino, the celebrated college basketball coach who led the Providence College Friars to the team’s last Final Four appearance in 1987, was fired as coach of the University of Louisville after an FBI investigation into a scandal surrounding the team.
Pitino, who was the toast of Providence during his year at the helm of the PC basketball team, has been coach of Louisville for 16 seasons where he took teams to the Final Four three times and won a national championship. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, where he played basketball. Pitino also coached early in his career at Boston University.
The news was first reported by ESPN and Louisville television station. Pitino has in recent years survived scandals, including a 2009 extortion attempt during which he acknowledged that he had been having an affair with the wife of his team’s equipment manager. In 2015, he was not fired despite a scandal in which a former Louisville staffer arranged for strippers and prostitutes to have liaisons with players and recruits in the team’s dormitory.
The latest allegations are that an executive from Adidas, the athletic shoe company that outfits Louisville teams, and others conspired to steer top recruits to Louisville through six-figure payments to their families, in one instance enlisting the aid of Pitino's assistant coach, according to the Washington Post.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” Pitino said in a statement released by his lawyer. Louisville officials are scheduled to hold a news conference on the matter this afternoon.