Pitino issues statement, Louisville says it will cooperate with 'law enforcement, NCAA' amid latest scandal | Zagsblog
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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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Tuesday / August 9.
  • Pitino issues statement, Louisville says it will cooperate with ‘law enforcement, NCAA’ amid latest scandal

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    Louisville says it will cooperate with “any law enforcement investigation or NCAA investigation” into the latest scandal engulfing the school’s basketball program under head coach Rick Pitino.

    “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.”

    Louisville is not among the schools singled out in an FBI investigation in which assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and USC were arrested on Tuesday and then suspended or placed on leave by their respective Universities.

    But the Cardinals figure into the report because an Adidas executive, Jim Gatto, is said to have paid $100,000 to the family of a recruit who committed in June.

    A player, identified only as “Player-10” is said to have committed to University-6 on or about June 3, 2017, “or almost immediately after the illicit bribe scheme.” As the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote, “University-6 is described as a public research university in Kentucky with an enrollment of 22,640,” which matches the description of Louisville.

    After initially listing schools like Arizona, Creighton and Michigan State, the 6-foot-7 Bowen committed to Louisville on June 3 — seemingly out of nowhere.

    “In my 40-some-odd years of coaching, this is the luckiest I’ve ever been,” Pitino told Terry Meiners of WHAS-840 on June 6, explaining that Bowen’s AAU coach recently called Pitino to see if he’d be interested in Bowen. “I won the Kentucky Derby with my friend (Always Dreaming owner Anthony Bonomo) winning it, and now this is much better. My friend wouldn’t think so, but I do.

    “He’s a terrific young man,” Pitino said. “He has terrific parents, and he won the national championship this year at the prep-school level and playing an unbelievable schedule. They beat the great team from Indiana who won the state championship by 25 or 30 points. He was one of their better basketball players, and I watched him play. It fell into our lap, and we got very lucky, and every once in a while, you need a little luck.”

    Bowen’s mother told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday she didn’t know anything about the latest report.

    “I don’t know anything about that,” Carrie Malecke told the paper. “I don’t know anything about that. I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea.”

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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.