Former University of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino | Courtesy of UofL Athletics

Cardinal Sin, Week 46: ESPN, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report say University of Louisville lawyers claim Rick Pitino withheld issues with the recruitment of Brian Bowen.

Back in September of 2017, an FBI investigation accused Bowen’s family of receiving $100,000 for his commitment to the University of Louisville through a scheme with Adidas, a Cardinals sponsor. Pitino has maintained his innocence and denies any knowledge of any arrangement or wrongdoing.

Pitino sued the ULAA for breach of contract; the university countersued Pitino asserting he was an “active wrongdoer.”

In documents filed on Wednesday, attorneys for the UofL Athletic Association say Pitino’s legal arguments are “directly contrary to the evidence obtained thus far in discovery.”

They say they have evidence suggesting Pitino was active in working with sports agent Christian Dawkins, arrested by the FBI for his role in the recruiting scandal, and Pitino knew of other financial offers to woo Bowen’s commitment.

Text messages attached to the motion show initial contact from Dawkins on May 23, 2017, saying, “Coach — this is Christian Dawkins. I dealt with you on Jaylen Johnson. Would you have interest in Brian Bowen or are you done recruiting?” Pitino responded, “We would love to have him.”

Then, according to the motion, Dawkins worked with Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson and Pitino to set up an unofficial campus visit for Brian Bowen on May 28-29.

On June 2, it looks like things were ready to move forward, other than some last minute massaging. Mr. Dawkins requested the coach reach out to Brian Bowen Sr.:

Everything is good. The Nike guys, Wes, everyone is hating that tugs (Bowen) chose Louisville. We are 100% good. But I just want him to hear from u. He’s also realizing tugs is leaving and actually going to college so I think there is parental emotions behind it as well. Ive calmed him down and told him it’s time for tugs to become a man, and u will take care of him.

That same day, Pitino, according to the motion, texted Johnson:

Coach DePaul trying to pay Bowen 200 k to come there. Crazy world!

Then on June 3, Bowen formally commits to Louisville.

All that adds up to this, according to the university’s motion:

Despite repeatedly being placed on notice and trained by University compliance that he should and must report such matters to them, Pitino never alerted University compliance to the fact that he was communicating with Dawkins, a former employee of the ASM Sports Agency, regarding Bowen’s commitment,” the university attorneys wrote in the motion.

Pitino never told compliance that Dawkins was accompanying Bowen on Bowen’s unofficial visit to the University. And Pitino never told compliance that he had been informed that other universities had allegedly offered Bowen hundreds of thousands of dollars to play for their basketball teams.

For Pitino’s part, he told the Courier Journal:

I said to Kenny Johnson on the phone: ‘I don’t believe a word of it. Where would DePaul get $200,000 to pay Brian Bowen?’ There’s no truth to what this guy said. He’s a nobody in the business. He hates DePaul, this guy …

There was no merit behind the thing. That’s why I never brought it to anybody. I get 20-30 text messages: ‘I heard UCLA is giving this. I heard Kansas is giving this.’ There’s no facts. I really didn’t think twice about it.

If you want more of his side of the story, Sports Illustrated says you can read all about it on Sept. 4 in “Pitino: My Story” from Diversion Books. Here’s part of the publisher’s synopsis:

Pitino is the story of an epic coaching career and the evolution of NCAA basketball to the multibillion-dollar enterprise it is today. It is also a master’s course on the arts of coaching and recruiting. And in the telling, the one and only Rick Pitino lays all his cards on the table in addressing scandals of his past and the current headline-grabbing investigation that led a packed board of directors at Louisville to derail his career.

So part memoir, part ripped-from-the-headlines tell-all, part coaching and success tips. That’s a lot to cover in 280 pages.

Face Value: In week four of the Papa John’s saga, founder John Schnatter believes he should be the public face of the company once more, says CBS News, ABC News (AP), The Hill and NBC Sports.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Schnatter said:

My persona resonates with the consumer because it’s authentic, it’s genuine and it’s the truth.

Once the public actually grasps what the board and what the management did to cause the problem and the truth gets out, of course I can be back in the ads.

Mr. Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board following a July 11 Forbes article alleging his use of a racial slur on a conference call. He apologized for using the word on a training call but said in context, he was attempting to make a claim against racism. The following week, he called his resignation a “mistake.”

So I don’t know. The truth sort of already seems like it’s out there. Just different ideas of what to do about it and how it plays, I guess.

For instance, Papa John’s disagrees and appears to see their founder as more albatross than asset at this point. They’ve been scrubbing him from their media and persona, removing his face from logos and pizza boxes and moving forward without him as the company’s face and pitchman.

Which leads Bloomberg Business to say founder and company are “at war.” As they sum things up in their “Bottom Line”:

After disparaging NFL protests and using a racial slur, Papa John’s founder resigned as CEO and chairman. He wants to make a comeback, and the board wants to stop him.

Says Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants:

We’re witnessing the single greatest brand suicide in recent consumer history.

Meanwhile, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is now officially sans Papa John’s, says NBC Sports. The Papa John’s logo came down on Wednesday.

There were plenty of suggestions for new names and sponsors, but the university is going with Cardinal Stadium.

It’s simple. Catchy. Almost old-fashioned in that it doesn’t have 17 words in it.

On the flip side, USA Today reports the Texas Rangers have resumed their promotion and partnership with Papa John’s. The Rangers said in a statement:

Papa John’s has taken a number of meaningful steps to address the reprehensible language used by John Schnatter. Most importantly, the company has removed Schnatter from any role with Papa John’s. The company has acknowledged the hurt that was caused and accepted responsibility for doing whatever is necessary to regain the trust of its customers, partners and employees. Papa John’s has promised transparency in this effort, including hiring outside experts to conduct an audit of the company’s culture and diversity and inclusion practices.

CNBC says Papa John’s appointed a new chair this week, Olivia F. Kirtley. She’d been serving as interim chair in Mr. Schnatter’s absence and received a unanimous vote from the board, including Mr. Schnatter.

And CNN says they’ve hired a new big deal media firm, Endeavor Global Marketing. So you could see new slogans, new spokespeople, a whole new thing.

Rand Paul | Courtesy

To Russia, with Love: Your junior Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is headed off to Moscow on Monday, says The Washington Post, New York Magazine and The Hill.

He first wrote about the trip in a Politico Op-Ed a few weeks ago:

In just a few weeks, I will take my own trip to Russia in an attempt to discuss common ground with their leaders and help prevent further, unnecessary escalation of tensions. We will discuss trade, cultural exchanges and how to better work for peace and prosperity in the world. I look forward to consulting with Trump between his visit and mine and to working with diplomats from both countries to have a successful trip and better relationships. Millions of lives could be at stake.

Following last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Sen. Paul was a voice of support amid a wave of criticism and confusion regarding the president’s performance.

That and other moves have led to a variety of think pieces and examination’s of Sen. Paul’s seeming about-faces, like the most recent in Vanity Fair: “Rand Paul Dumps his Principles for a Romance with Trump.”

Here’s Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen:

Paul should be dizzy from all the pirouettes he has executed of late. In November, Paul suggested he would vote against Trump’s tax bill, only to reverse himself on that. Though he voted against the Senate’s budget resolution in February, driving the government into a brief shutdown, his “no” was more performative than anything; the budget eventually passed with ease through the G.O.P.-controlled chamber. And in April, he flipped his opposition to Mike Pompeo, a noted fan of bulk warrantless surveillance, eventually voting to confirm him as secretary of state.

And the latest: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Sen. Paul said he had issues, a meeting with Mr. Kavanaugh got set up, and then this:

I think maybe Sen. Paul just has a “wants to be wanted, needs to be needed” thing going on. Like, “If I say I might not vote for this thing or that, someone will come by the office or maybe take me out to lunch or dinner and we can be friends.” Could be that simple.

Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown | Courtesy of 21c

Game Changers: TIME invites you to “Meet the 31 People who are Changing the South,” and would you look at that? Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson of 21c Museum Hotels made the list.

As they should.

They opened their first 21c in 2006 right here on Main Street, combining seamless integration between the hotel and its contemporary art gallery, free to the public 24 hours a day. Talking to people from out-of-town shortly after 21c’s opening, it altered perceptions of Louisville almost immediately. Not just bourbon and horses, but one with a significant stake in the visual arts, wrapped in a sustainable business.

You want to commune with the most engaging art voices of 2018 at 3 a.m.? You can do that. You want to stay in a beautifully renovated historic building? Yep. You want to get engaged on the roof at sunset? OK, so that one may be more particular to me, but still.

21c did make news this week when it announced it was selling a majority of its ownership to international hotel brand AccorHotels.

Twitter

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: People and the loathed E! report “Jennifer Lawrence Holds Hands with Boyfriend Cooke Maroney on Lunch Date.”

Yep.

So to sum up: An unidentified “source” says a couple who have been dating for two months went to lunch holding hands. Bold to even reveal that anonymously.

See you next week.

Kyle Ware
Kyle Ware is a Louisville-based actor, artist, educator and writer. His column, In Other News, appears at Insider Louisville every Friday.