Education Sports

University of Louisville Interim President Greg Postel said Thursday he can’t confirm whether U of L men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is “Coach-2” named in federal documents as someone who took part in a college basketball bribery scheme.

“[Federal authorities] will probably continue to amend their documents and gradually replace some of the numbers with actual names, but it’s not our position to do that,” Postel said. “We don’t feel it’s our place to make those announcements; it’s an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

Postel said he hasn’t been contacted by the FBI amid the unfolding investigation.

Pitino hasn’t been charged with any crime, but several news outlets are reporting that he is the man referred to as “Coach-2” in a federal complaint that details the bribery scheme.

The complaint alleges that Adidas funneled money to the family of a basketball recruit sought by U of L at the request of “Coach-2.”

The recruit is widely believed to be U of L freshman Brian Bowen, who committed to play at the school in June, in a decision that was considered to be a surprise. Postel would not confirm that Wednesday, only saying one student athlete was being withheld from NCAA activities indefinitely.

On July 27, a conversation was secretly recorded between Jonathan Augustine, the Florida-based director of an Adidas-affiliated AAU basketball program; sports agent Christian Dawkins; and a unnamed Louisville assistant coach. They talked specifically about getting financial support for a Louisville recruit.

“The mom is like…we need our f***ing money. So we got to be able to fund this situation.”

In the same conversation, the men discussed “Coach-2,” someone described as having significant influence at Adidas, saying, “No one swings a bigger d*** than [Coach-2]” at Adidas, according to the federal complaint. “[A]ll [Coach-2] has to do is pick up the phone and call somebody, [and say] these are my guys, they’re taking care of us.”

Pitino and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave Wednesday.

As the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting noted Wednesday, both Pitino and Jurich have earned tens of millions of dollars during their tenures at U of L. Pitino, whose salary last year was about $5 million, is one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

Both Jurich’s and Pitino’s contract say a major NCAA violation or dishonest conduct would justify termination.

Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, released a statement Wednesday saying the coach had been “effectively fired” without the due process promised in his contract.

WFPL News left a voicemail Thursday morning for Pence to ask him about national reports that Pitino is “Coach-2.” Pence has not returned the call.

In all, four college basketball coaches, three sports managers and three Adidas employees have been charged in the bribery probe.

The investigation revealed the “dark underbelly of college basketball,” said Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Kim painted a picture in which coaches, managers and sportswear companies “exploited the hoop dreams of students from around the country.”

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.