University of Louisville interim President Greg Postel announced at a press conference filled with media on Wednesday that two legendary institutions of UofL athletics — men’s basketball Coach Rick Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich — had been placed on administrative leave, following federal indictments targeting corruption in NCAA basketball that ensnared UofL’s program.
“The allegations are serious,” said Postel, who reiterated that the university would fully cooperate with law enforcement and NCAA officials investigating the matter. “It is vital for this university to strictly adhere to NCAA rules and, of course, federal law. Doing nothing would be a tacit endorsement of potential criminal and unethical behavior.”
Federal prosecutors in New York announced Tuesday morning that 10 indictments were handed down following a nationwide FBI corruption sting of NCAA basketball programs, in which agents and a top Adidas executive were accused of giving bribes to assistant coaches and recruits in order to steer players to different schools or companies. At least one coach from UofL was allegedly involved in the scheme of the Adidas executive this summer to successfully bribe a recruit with $100,000 in order to attend that school, and also caught on videotape in a Las Vegas hotel room discussing the bribe of another recruit.
Both Jurich and Pitino entered a conference room in Grawemeyer Hall this morning to speak with Postel, each exiting the room roughly five minutes later without answering any questions. Pitino’s attorney told IL Tuesday evening that there was no reason for Pitino to consider resigning, as “there have been no allegations made against Coach Pitino.”
While media reports after the meetings Tuesday morning speculated that both had been fired, Postel announced to the media that Pitino had been placed on unpaid administrative leave, while Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave.
Postel and UofL board of trustees chairman J. David Grissom said Pitino’s fate would be up to the board of the UofL Athletic Association, while Jurich’s fate would be up to the board of trustees at their meeting next week. Postel emphasized that these measures were taken because they had to abide by the university’s personnel policies and terms of their contracts.
While Postel’s language suggested that the two may not return to their jobs, he said that technically both Pitino and Jurich could return to their positions if that is what the boards choose to do.
Postel also referred to the UofL basketball player alleged to have taken the bribe in the indictment — widely believed to be Brian Bowen — saying that he is being “withheld from NCAA activities, including practices and games, indefinitely.”
Grissom told IL after the press conference that he is keeping “an open mind” on whether or not Jurich should ultimately be fired, adding “I’m a lawyer, I believe nobody is guilty until proven guilty.” He said he couldn’t speculate on what the full board of trustees would decide to do, but said the trustees would meet next week “to talk about these developments, and we’ll see how this plays out.”
Grissom also said during the press conference that the trustees “unanimously support” the suspensions, even though the board has not met since the news of the indictments broke on Tuesday morning. Asked how he knew of their support, Grissom said that he had spoken to each trustee individually on the matter, though, such an action might constitute polling of a public board and a violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act.
Postel said that he hoped to name an interim athletic director and interim men’s basketball coach in the next 48 hours, and decisions regarding the unnamed UofL coaches in the indictment would be made by this interim athletic director.
While describing this as “a dark day” for the University of Louisville, Postel added that “better days are ahead.”
Jurich’s attorney release a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing his deep disappointment with what has taken place.
“For the last 20 years, I have dedicated my life to the University of Louisville,” stated Jurich. “Disappointment does not even come close to describing my feelings surrounding the allegation that any member of the UofL basketball staff could be involved in the criminal conduct announced yesterday. My intent has always been to run every athletic program at the University in an honest and compliant manner. It is heartbreaking to me that the alleged intentional and secret criminal acts can bring such harm to our school. I love this University, the Louisville community and all of our fans.”
Jurich added that he plans “to continue to help UofL overcome the challenges it faces and work cooperatively with the University with the support of the UofL Board of Trustees following their meeting on October 19th.”
Pitino’s attorney Steve Pence issued a statement on behalf of the coach Wednesday evening, saying that Pitino has “in effect, been fired.” The statement also says Pitino was not given the proper notice of disciplinary action or the ability to defend himself, which he states is required by university policy and his contract.
Pence also states that “the information disclosed thus far in the investigation is clearly insufficient to implicate Coach Pitino in any type of misconduct or other activity that would violate the terms of his contract. In sum, Coach Pitino has done nothing wrong and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The rush to judgment is regrettable.”
The statement by Pitino’s attorney closes by saying that the facts in the investigation “will inevitably exonerate him.”
The full statement of Pitino’s attorney can be read below:
“The University of Louisville placed Coach Pitino on indefinite unpaid administrative leave today. It did not give him prior notice of the disciplinary action or an opportunity to be heard, as required by University policy and Coach Pitino’s employment contract. Coach Pitino has, in effect, been fired. The matter will now follow its legal course. Coach Pitino stands by his previous statement — and that of the U.S. Attorney’s Office — that named and unnamed people perpetrated a fraudulent scheme on the University and its basketball program. The information disclosed thus far in the investigation is clearly insufficient to implicate Coach Pitino in any type of misconduct or other activity that would violate the terms of his contract. In sum, Coach Pitino has done nothing wrong and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The rush to judgment is regrettable.
Moving forward, Coach Pitino’s primary concern is for the well-being of the student- athletes on the University’s basketball team, and in getting complete and accurate facts in the ongoing investigation. Those facts will inevitably exonerate him.”
This story has been updated.