Fired Louisville coach Rick Pitino SUES school's athletic association for more than $35million over a 'breach of contract'
- Pitino is seeking over $35 million from the the University of Louisville Athletic Association in a federal 'breach of contract' lawsuit filed Thursday
- The two-time national champion coach was never charged or arrested in connection to the case, but he allegedly directed payments to potential recruits
- Pitino's lawyer: '[My client] had no part whatsoever in any scheme to pay the family of a UL recruit, or to otherwise improperly provide benefits to any recruit'
- The Hall of Fame coach was placed on unpaid administrative leave in September after an FBI investigation uncovered an alleged plot to bribe the family of Brian Bowen, a five-star recruit, with $100,000 to secure his commitment
- Pitino was fired ‘for cause’ on October 16 in a unanimous vote by the ULAA
Fired University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is seeking over $35 million from the school’s athletic association in a federal 'breach of contract' lawsuit filed Thursday.
The two-time national champion coach had that amount remaining on his contract when he was fired ‘for cause’ on October 16 in a unanimous vote by the University of Louisville Athletic Association. The move came as a result of the FBI investigation into alleged corruption within college basketball, which included a scheme to pay the families of Louisville recruits.
Pitino was never charged or arrested in connection to the case, but he allegedly had knowledge and directed payments to potential recruits, according to an indictment that unsealed on November 8.
Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals and the teams mascot react after a play while playing against the Morehead State Eagles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center in Denver on March 17
Rick Pitino had around $35 million on his contract when he was fired ‘for cause’ on October 16 in a unanimous vote by the University of Louisville Athletic Association
Steve Pence, Pitino’s lawyer,’ told the Louisville Courier Journal that his client ‘had no part whatsoever in any scheme to pay the family of a UL recruit, or to otherwise improperly provide benefits to any recruit, as an inducement to join the basketball program.’
The lawsuit alleges that the board violated Pitino’s contract in September, when he was placed on unpaid leave, and then again in October, when he was fired ‘for cause,’ meaning he would be denied the remainder of his contract.
‘Coach Pitino alleges that ULAA materially breached his employment contract when it effectively fired him — by placing him on administrative leave — without providing the notice required by the parties’ contract, then failed to remedy its breach within thirty days after Coach Pitino notified ULAA of its material breach,’ read the court filing, obtained by the Courier Journal.
‘Coach Pitino further alleges that ULAA compounded its breach — when it purported to fire him “for cause,” even though ULAA lacked legal cause as defined by the parties’ contract, — then failed to remedy that breach within thirty days after Coach Pitino properly notified ULAA of its material breach,’ the filing continued. ‘Coach Pitino seeks damages equal to the full unpaid balance of his contract, consistent with the terms of the contract’s liquidated damages clause.’
The lawsuit alleges that the University of Louisville Athletic Association board violated Pitino’s contract in September, when he was placed on unpaid leave, and then again in October, when he was fired ‘for cause,’ meaning he would be denied the remainder of his contract
A University of Louisville spokesman confirmed that the school is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment to the Courier Journal.
Pitino’s contract ran through June of 2026 and was worth around $4.3 million a year. He also had a personal service contract with Adidas that was vacated after his dismissal. According to the Courier Journal, that deal worth $1.5 million a year in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Pitino previously filed a lawsuit against Adidas in October alleging that the apparel giant deliberately damaged his reputation.
Last week, the company asked for that lawsuit to be dismissed.
Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on September 27 after the FBI investigation uncovered an alleged plot to bribe the family of Brian Bowen (above), a five-star recruit, with $100,000 to secure his commitment to Louisville
Even before that recruiting scandal was publicized, Louisville already found itself on NCAA probation for another scandal in which recruits were provided strippers and escorts. Pitino has maintained he did not know about those events, but the NCAA vacated the Cardinals’ wins from 2010 to 2014 anyway.
On October 3, Louisville’s interim president Greg Postel sent a letter to Pitino stating eight reasons why his contract was being terminated. While referencing both recruiting scandals, Postel said the program exhibited a pattern of ‘inappropriate behavior’ under Pitino.
Pitino is not named in the federal complaint that was released by the FBI on September 26, but it has since been revealed that he is referred to as ‘Coach-2.’
Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on September 27 after the FBI investigation uncovered an alleged plot to bribe the family of Brian Bowen, a five-star recruit, with $100,000 to secure his commitment to Louisville.
According to an indictment that was unsealed in November, former sports agency representative Christian Dawkins claimed that he requested Pitino call Adidas executive James Gatto to ask for money in order to bribe the family of a recruit. Pitino allegedly agreed.
In an affidavit presented by his attorney, Pitino claimed he 'had no part - active, passive or through willful ignorance' in the alleged bribery scheme.
'I do not dispute ULAA's right to terminate my employment at its discretion,' Pitino's affidavit stated. 'But I vehemently reject its right to do so 'for cause.' I have given no 'cause' for termination of my contract.
'I had no reason to know about the conspiracy described in the complaint, and no reason to know about the complicity of any UL assistant coach or staff member in any bribery conspiracy,' the affidavit continued. 'I never have had any part - active, passive, or through willful ignorance - in any effort, successful or unsuccessful, completed or abandoned, to pay any recruit, or any family member of a recruit, or anyone else on a recruit's behalf, as an inducement to attend UL.'
James Gatto was Adidas' director of global sports marketing when he was charged with fraud and money laundering in the alleged plot to bribe the family of five-star recruit Brian Bowen
One alleged scheme involved an Adidas rep, James Gatto, and his associates funneling cash to top recruits in order to push them towards colleges that had sponsorship deals with Adidas
The other scheme involved managers and advisors bribing college coaches, who persuaded top recruits and their families to sign with those managers and advisors
Bowen, a freshman, has since been suspended permanently by the school, although he was not charged in the FBI investigation.
Pitino's affidavit also contained the results of a polygraph, which purported to show that he was not deceptive in answering questions regarding the recruitment of Bowen.
Pitino did admit to being in touch with Gatto, the company's director of global sports marketing who was charged with fraud and money laundering in the alleged bribery plot. However, Pitino insisted he never discussed improper benefits with Gatto.
'ULAA's October 4, 2017 letter to me says that I should have known about any assistant coach or staff member's complicity in the bribery matter,' the affidavit states. 'I reject that assertion. No reasonable level of oversight - including the oversight that President Postel and AD Jurich recommended and that I implemented - can guarantee that staff members will always act properly.'
On October 3, Louisville’s interim president Greg Postel sent a letter to Pitino stating eight reasons why his contract was being terminated in which he claimed that the program exhibited a pattern of ‘inappropriate behavior’ under the Hall of Fame coach?
The move officially ended Pitino's 16-year tenure with the program, a run that included winning the 2013 NCAA championship but was tarnished by several embarrassing off-court incidents.
In November, a federal grand jury in New York indicted ten individuals charged in connection with the joint FBI-Justice Department investigation into corruption within college basketball.
Those indicted include suspended Auburn assistant basketball coach and former NBA star Chuck Person, former Arizona assistant Emanuel 'Book' Richardson, suspended USC assistant Tony Bland, suspended Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, former NBA referee-turned-clothier Rashan Michel, Gatto, former Adidas representative Merl Code, Dawkins, former AAU director Brad Augustine, and financial adviser Munish Sood.
The FBI and Justice Department announced the massive crackdown on what they described as the 'dark underbelly' of college basketball back on September 26.
According to the complaint, Dawkins and Sood, among others, paid bribes to assistant and associate coaches at Division I schools, including Person, Bland, Richardson, and Evans. The hope was that in exchange for the bribes, the coaches would convince players under their control, and the players' families, to retain Dawkins and Sood upon entering the NBA.
Two schemes were investigated by the FBI and Justice Department: One in which recruits and their families allegedly received bribes in exchange for commitments to specific universities, and another in which player advisers were supposedly paid to persuade the athletes to sign with certain managers, agents, and financial advisers.
The Cardinals are currently 4-1 under acting head coach David Padgett, who previously played for Pitino at Louisville.?
The Cardinals are 4-1 under acting coach David Padgett, who once played for Pitino at U of L
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