This story has been updated.
University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have been placed on administrative leave and their positions at the university will be evaluated, according to U of L interim president Gregory Postel.
Postel made the announcement at a news conference on campus Wednesday afternoon.
Pitino has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, while Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave, Postel said. The interim president pledged to work quickly to name an interim athletic director, and then collaborate with that person to name an interim head basketball coach. Postel said he hoped to announced those appointments within 48 hours.
Any decisions regarding coaches named during the investigation would be made by the interim athletic director, Postel said.
The moves come a day after federal prosecutors revealed a widespread corruption scheme at several universities, including U of L.
In court filings, prosecutors describe two scenarios in which an Adidas staffer secured payments for families of U of L recruits. In one instance, an Adidas employee arranged for $100,000 and ongoing monthly payments allegedly funneled through a third-party company for a high school player, who is currently a freshman athlete at the school.
That athlete is widely believed to be star recruit Brian Bowen. Postel would not confirm, only saying one student athlete was being withheld from NCAA activities indefinitely.
As reported by the Courier-Journal, Jurich released a statement Wednesday afternoon through his attorney, Alison Stemler, calling the latest scandal “heartbreaking.”
“For the last 20 years, I have dedicated my life to the University of Louisville. Disappointment does not even come close to describing my feelings surrounding the allegation that any member of the U of L basketball staff could be involved int the criminal conduct announced yesterday.
“My intent has always been to run every athletic program at the University in an honest and compliant manner. It is heartbreaking to me that the alleged intentional and secret criminal acts can bring such harm to our school.
“I love this University, the Louisville community and all of our fans. I plan to continue to help U of L overcome the challenges it faces and work cooperatively with the University with the support of the U of L Board of Trustees following their meeting on October 19th.”
Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence issued a statement on the coach’s behalf late Wednesday afternoon. Pence said there was no evidence showing Pitino was guilty of any wrongdoing.
“The University of Louisville placed Coach Pitino on indefinite unpaid administrative leave today. It did not give him prior notice of the disciplinary action or an opportunity to be heard, as required by University policy and Coach Pitino’s employment contract. Coach Pitino has, in effect, been fired. The matter will now follow its legal course.
“Coach Pitino stands by his previous statement — and that of the U.S. Attorney’s Office — that named and unnamed people perpetrated a fraudulent scheme on the University and its basketball program. The information disclosed thus far in the investigation is clearly insufficient to implicate Coach Pitino in any type of misconduct or other activity that would violate the terms of his contract. In sum, Coach Pitino has done nothing wrong and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The rush to judgment is regrettable.
“Moving forward, Coach Pitino’s primary concern is for the well-being of the student- athletes on the University’s basketball team, and in getting complete and accurate facts in the ongoing investigation. Those facts will inevitably exonerate him.”
Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted support for the university community late Wednesday afternoon.
I believe in the University of Louisville. We all need to support its students, faculty, and staff who work hard every day.
— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) September 27, 2017
And late Wednesday evening, Gov. Bevin’s office issued a statement of support for Postel and the U of L board in handling the situation.
“President Greg Postel and the Board of Trustees have the full confidence and support of Governor Bevin,” the statement read. “They are handling this situation in a manner that is appropriate and we will allow that process to unfold before any additional comment.”
The FBI’s Case
Four college basketball coaches, three sports managers and three Adidas employees were charged in federal court in Manhattan.
A top Adidas official is accused of funneling money to high school recruits to attend universities sponsored by the company.
Ten people were charged in Manhattan federal court. Four coaches — Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State — were in federal custody and expected to make court appearances Tuesday.
The federal complaint cites a “University 6,” and describes a Kentucky Division 1 athletics program with the exact number of students enrolled at U of L. The complaint describes two scenarios where an Adidas staffer secured payments for families of university recruits.
Postel, confirmed the school’s involvement in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
In wiretapped conversations recorded in June, the defendants described “University 6” as a “flagship school” they needed to take care of with top players.
“This is kind of one of those instances where we needed to step up and help one of our flagship schools in [University 6], you know, secure a five star caliber kid,” one affiliate of the shoe company allegedly said in a phone call recorded by the FBI. “Obviously that helps, you know, our potential business.”
U of L and Adidas
U of L Athletic director Tom Jurich last month announced a $160 million contract renewal with Adidas that spans 10 years, the fourth most-lucrative sponsorship in NCAA history.
“When we began our relationship with Adidas nearly 20 years ago, we weren’t in the same shape we are now,” Jurich said in a news release at the time. “Adidas has stood arm-in-arm with us through adversity and success.”