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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / February 23.
  • Pitino Reports Extortion Attempt to FBI; Case Centers Around Wife of Louisville Employee

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    ***Gary Parrish has since reported that the extortion case revolves around Karen Sypher, the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher. The couple are in the process of getting a divorce.

    Here’s my original post:

    Louisville coach Rick Pitino says he is the victim of an extortion attempt and has forwarded the information to the FBI.

    A statement released by the university Saturday said Pitino reported the threats to authorities last month and that the FBI is investigating. The statement does not specify the nature of the threats.

    “My family and I were recently threatened as part of a criminal scheme to extort money. Upon receiving these threats, we reported this extortion attempt to the FBI,” Pitino said in the statement.

    “While I did not want to make this matter public, I recently learned that the individual behind this extortion attempt has already gone to the media with false, defamatory and outrageous allegations in an attempt to pressure me to cave in to this scheme.

    “I want to make it clear that I intend to vigorously defend my reputation and the character of my family against any criminal scheme to extort money. I am hopeful that the media and public will recognize the slanderous nature of this direct and malicious attack.

    “My family and I appreciate the support we have received from Tom Jurich, Dr. James Ramsey, and the entire Louisville family. Because this is a federal criminal investigation, I cannot comment further at this time. Any inquiries should be directed to my attorney, Steve Pence.

    A call to Pence by the Associated Press went unreturned.

    Louisville president James Ramsey issued a statement saying that he supports Pitino and stands by his decision to go to the authorities.

    Jurich, the Lousiville athletic director, said in a statement that, “Coach Pitino has informed us that he and his attorneys have reported a potential extortion attempt to the FBI. We cannot comment further about this ongoing criminal investigation. We stand by Coach Pitino and support his decision to alert the authorities.”

    Pitino, 56, led Louisville to the Big East regular season and tournament titles this year, his eighth at the school.

    He won an NCAA championship as the coach of Kentucky in 1996 and has also led Providence and Louisville to the Final Four. He previously coached the Knicks and Boston Celtics.

    (The Associated Press and Louisville Courier-Journal contributed to this report)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.