Pitino says he had 'no knowledge' of Brian Bowen payments, feels 'vindicated' | Zagsblog
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Friday / June 21.
  • Pitino says he had ‘no knowledge’ of Brian Bowen payments, feels ‘vindicated’

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    In an interview with ESPN’s Jay Bilas on Wednesday, former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino reiterated in his first public comments since his firing that he had “no knowledge” of an alleged payment from a Cardinals’ assistant coach to the family of consensus five-star recruit Brian Bowen, citing a lie detector test Pitino took earlier this month.

    “I was asked two questions,” said Pitino. “And I said, ‘I want you to ask me if any other recruits in my tenure were ever given anything.’

    “And [the polygraph examiner] said, ‘That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for: Did you have any knowledge of the Bowen family getting any money? Did you have any knowledge of an Adidas transaction?’

    “I answered ‘absolutely not’ on both questions and passed the lie-detector test,” the two-time National Champion said. “So, I had no knowledge of any of this.”

    According to an FBI complaint from last month, Bowen is alleged to have been promised $100,00 by an Adidas executive to attend Louisville. The executive in question, Jim Gatto, was among 10 people charged last month in crimes related to the investigation.

    Louisville was not unequivocally mention in court documents, but interim president Greg Postel confirmed the report that the university was involved in the investigation.

    The Basketball Hall of Fame coach was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Sept. 27, and Louisville’s athletic board unanimously voted Monday to fire him. The same board also voted to fire former athletic director Tom Jurich on Wednesday.

    “This is your life,” Pitino said. “This is your passion and you don’t want your life taken and pulled away from you. I think all these other people reacted the right way, whether it’s at Auburn, Arizona, USC and Oklahoma (State). … They’re collecting all the facts, seeing what’s going on. There’s only been one school that rushed to judgment and took the coach away from these players and that’s Louisville.”

    Pitino sued Adidas on Tuesday, claiming the company’s “outrageous conduct” to funnel money to Bowen’s family without his knowledge caused “grave damage to his public and private standing and reputation, causing him extreme embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress.”

    Pitino also denied that Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, ever had helped Louisville sign players by funneling money to their families.

    “I knew Jim Gatto better through his dad,” Pitino said. “He’s never once ever said, ‘I’m going to help you out and pay a kid money,’ or do anything like that. Never even brought up anything like that.”

    While many people think it is unlikely Pitino didn’t know about everything going on throughout his program, the ex-coach echoed he had “no knowledge,” but takes complete liability.

    “I take full responsibility for anybody I hire,” Pitino said. “There’s no question about that. I take ownership of that.”

    “I’ve hired some great ones,” he added. “Did I make some mistakes in the last couple of hires? One hundred percent, yes, but I believe that they were the right people.”

    Pitino believes “1000 percent” he will be cleared in this situation and even feels he has already been vindicated.

    “I’ve already been vindicated, not by a lie detector test, just by the text messages my players have sent me and the phone calls from my assistant coaches. I have been vindicated in my eyes. Nobody has been arrested on my staff. I have to answer to one person, we all do. Whatever God you believe in. That’s the most important thing.”

    Photo: ESPN

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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.

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