adidas trainers uk AD Tom Jurich placed on leave amid FBI probe
Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich have been placed on administrative leave, interim president Gregory Postel announced Wednesday, a day after an FBI investigation revealed potential criminal activity involving recruiting at the school.
Pitino is on unpaid administrative leave and his future “employment will be reviewed at a later date,” Postel said. Pitino’s contract allowing him 10 days notice to contest any plans to terminate his employment.
Jurich is on paid administrative leave until the next board of trustees meeting on Oct. 18, Postel said. With basketball practice set to begin Friday, a interim head coach and athletics director will be named within the next 48 hours, Postel said.
“Doing nothing would be a tacit endorsement of unethical and criminal activity,” Postel said.
In addition, one unnamed basketball player will be withheld from practice and games indefinitely, Postel said. The recruit in question is believed to be five star freshman Brian Bowen, according to CBS Sports.
The Louisville Courier Journal quoted Steve Pence, Pitino’s personal attorney, as saying that although the coach was placed on administrative leave Wednesday but “effectively fired.” Pitino and Jurich met separately with Postel and the school’s board of trustees on Wednesday morning, with each meeting lasting fewer than 10 minutes.
Pitino, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the highest paid coach in college basketball at more than $7.7 million per year, has been at Louisville since 2001. Jurich has been the school’s AD since 1997. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, both five star combo guard Anfernee Simons of Florida and four star guard Courtney Ramey of St. Louis have withdrawn their pledges to the Cardinals.
Wednesday’s move apparently brings to an end a sordid few years for the 65 year old Pitino, who was already facing a 5 game suspension for a separate NCAA violations case involving a former staff member providing prostitutes for recruits. He also admitted in 2009 to an extramarital affair that resulted in pregnancy.
The FBI probe announced by government officials Tuesday focused on college coaches being paid tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for directing future NBA prospects to agents, financial advisers and apparel companies. Four active assistant coaches were arrested and charged, including Auburn’s Chuck Person.
The indictment also names a coach at a “public research university located in Kentucky” of being involved with athletic apparel giant Adidas which provides shoes and other gear for Louisville basketball in a plot to provide $100,000 to a high school recruit. Postel confirmed on Tuesday that his school was under investigation by the FBI.
When Bowen signed with Louisville in June, Pitino told a radio host “we got lucky on this one” after a summer program director asked him if he wanted to recruit the McDonald’s All American forward.
“They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals,” Pitino told WHAS AM radio. “We spent zero dollars recruiting a 5 star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40 years of coaching, this is the luckiest I’ve been.”
In a statement released through his attorney Tuesday, Pitino said he was unaware of the federal crimes (which are also NCAA violations) allegedly committed on his program’s behalf.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” Pitino said. Attorney’s Office that these third party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
Pitino was suspended for five ACC games on June 15, and the school was placed on four years probation and forced to vacate several wins over a four year period. Former director of basketball operations Andre McGee was given a 10 year show cause order after the NCAA found he hired an escort service to have sex with potential recruits in university buildings.
Pitino coached Kentucky to a national championship and three Final Fours in nine seasons before leaving in 1997 for an ill fated four year stint with the NBA’s Boston Celtics. He returned to college basketball at Louisville in 2001, leading the Cardinals to 416 victories, three Final Fours and the 2013 NCAA tournament championship.
Pitino ranks No. 12 all time in Division I basketball coaching victories with 770. In addition to Kentucky and Louisville, he also coached Providence to the Final Four in 1987.
Jurich, 61, is among the more long tenured and successful athletic directors in the country. In addition to Pitino, he also twice hired football coach Bobby Petrino in 2003 and again in 2014 as well as baseball coach Dan McDonnell, who has led the Cardinals to three College World Series in the last five seasons.