Rick Pitino says Louisville outsiders 'killed my dreams,' 'killed one of the top recruiting classes in history' | 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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Wednesday / December 6.
  • Rick Pitino says Louisville outsiders ‘killed my dreams,’ ‘killed one of the top recruiting classes in history’

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    In a lengthy interview with Louisville radio host Terry Meiners, former Louisville coach Rick Pitino says “outsiders” at the school “killed my dreams” and “killed one of the top recruiting classes in history.”

    Pitino was “effectively fired” Sept. 27, one day after the FBI college bribery scandal was revealed. He was then officially let go on Oct. 16. He has since said he had “no knowledge” of any alleged payments to freshman Brian Bowen and feels “vindicated” by the process.

    “Terry, nobody got indicted,” Pitino said from Tampa, Fla. “No system coaches got indicted. Nothing happened yet. The facts haven’t been out. They rushed to judgment. They killed my dreams. They killed some of the players’ dreams who wanted to play for me. They killed one of the top recruiting classes in the history of my tenure without any facts going on. Now that’s OK. I’m a big boy, and I’ll land on my feet the right way when the truth comes out.

    “But it’s not about me. It’s about the program, the town, the fans, the university and what they deserve. And these are outsiders coming in and doing this to our program.”

    On the recruiting front, Louisville’s heralded 2017 class included not only Bowen, but Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams and Lance Thomas.

    For the 2018 class, several high-profile prospects including Moses Brown and Romeo Langford removed Louisville from consideration after the scandal. In 2019, Minnesota wing Matthew Hurt has also removed Louisville from consideration.

    Pitino was also asked about former assistant Jordan Fair, identified as Coach-1 in the FBI documents, and why he is on an FBI video recording inside a Las Vegas hotel room talking to an Adidas executive about funneling money to a recruit’s family.

    “Well, I don’t have the facts to any of that, and I’m not going to hang him out to dry,” Pitino said. “Whatever he did, it was a wrong move, and he needs to explain his behavior. Because here’s a young man I took, and I checked his background, vetted him out, everyone spoke extremely high of him, from Coach Bellato on. He was a high school coach making $13,000 a year. I loved his passion. I watched him coach. I loved his hunger. And he did the wrong thing by stepping in that room, and he has to speak up on that matter and not hide behind lawyers as well. Because he has not been indicted like those other four assistant coaches. So I don’t know what he’s guilty of, Terry. I don’t know. They tried to include me in on the conversation. That was totally ludicrous. Why? I don’t know … mentioning my name on that.”

    Pitino repeated his claim that he’s “totally innocent” and said he would return to coach Louisville “tomorrow” if asked.

    Asked if he would walk away from the money owed him, he said: “I have a contract, Terry. My lawyers are handling my contract. That’s out of my hands … that’s in their hands. I want to coach my basketball team. That’s all I want. If they want to bring me back tomorrow, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

    Meantime, in another interview this week with Kentucky Sports Radio, Kentucky coach John Calipari said “Louisville has to do well.”

    “I hate that it’s happened this way,” Calipari said.. “… I hate it for the people, but let me tell you: It’s important that Louisville — the school and the athletics department — does well because we all in this state need the city of Louisville to do well. For this state to make it, Louisville has to be strong as a city.”

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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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