“Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting,” a school statement says.
“While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated.
“We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter.”
Pitino later issued a statement through his attorney, Steve Pence: “These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the US Attorneys 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.”At least one national columnist is already calling for Louisville to receive the “death penalty” if the investigation surrounding a recruit — who appears to be freshman forward Brian Bowen — is proven true. “The program should be shut down,” wrote Yahoo’s Pat Forde. “If it doesn’t happen, the NCAA is useless. “Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino should be gone, a gilded career ending in disgrace. It seems highly plausible that he will take athletic director Tom Jurich with him, a man who lifted an entire department, and now oversees its ruination. “They were heroes here, for many years. And now they have been party to multiple scandals and a stain so deep on the basketball program that it may never fully go away. SMU football knows the feeling. “Louisville already was ordered by the NCAA in the spring to vacate its 2013 national title because of stripper parties for recruits and players funded by a former program staffer. That was embarrassment enough. Now there is this, very strong evidence that the school is involved in high-dollar buying of players.”