Democracy Dies in Darkness

Early Lead

After a career full of second chances, Rick Pitino should get one more, Dick Vitale says

November 10, 2017 at 12:01 PM

(Thomas Joseph/USA Today Sports)

Rick Pitino admitted to having sexual relations with the wife of his team’s equipment manager. Louisville brought him back. A former Cardinals staffer arranged for strippers and prostitutes to have sex with players and recruits in the team’s dormitory. Pitino denied any knowledge of it and kept his job. Only when the feds got involved did the ax finally fall: Louisville fired the Hall of Fame coach last month after an FBI investigation found an executive from Adidas and others conspired to steer top recruits to Louisville via six-figure payments to their families, with Pitino allegedly being aware of the scheme.

ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, for one, thinks Pitino deserves yet another chance.

“I agree with Geno Auriemma, who said [he] would hire him in a minute,” Vitale told the New York Post. “The guy isn’t on probation anywhere he’s ever been. If there was someone looking to make a big hit, I think he would be a great hire. I really do. … He’s made mistakes, no doubt about it. I’ve made mistakes. I am sure you’ve made mistakes. I don’t know how hungry he would be. I know he misses this team because he had told me before any of this happened that this could be the best team he’s had.”

Related: [Svrluga: Coaches know what’s wrong with college basketball. It’s time they start fixing it.]

Auriemma, the Hall of Fame coach of the Connecticut women’s team, told the “Pardon My Take” podcast earlier this month that he would hire Pitino for his coaching staff if he had an opening.

“Well, I mean, everybody’s got baggage,” Auriemma said. “You know, what are you going to do? You know, he did his time. He’s serving his sentence. He lost a great, great job. And you know what? So what. That’s a life sentence? I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Pitino was officially fired Oct. 16, so Auriemma’s definition of time served is rather peculiar. In any case, more has come out about Pitino’s alleged role in the scheme since the U.S. Justice Department’s initial announcement, which maintained that an AAU coach named Christian Dawkins called Pitino to ask him for help in securing a six-figure payment to the family of highly regarded recruit Brian Bowen. A new federal indictment against former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, released this week, alleges Pitino not only was aware of the scheme — as was previously thought — but agreed to participate in it.

“Dawkins explained that while [Pitino] and the University of Louisville were recruiting [Bowen], Dawkins asked [Pitino] to call James Gatto to request that [Adidas] provide the money requested by the family of [Bowen], which [Pitino] agreed to do,” the indictment reads.

Pitino’s attorney told ESPN that his client denied having any knowledge of the scheme, citing a lie-detector test he took last month. Nevertheless, he remains unemployed.


Matt Bonesteel spent the first 17 years of his Washington Post career writing and editing. In 2014, Bonesteel pivoted from the newspaper to online and now he blogs for the Early Lead and other Web-based products owned by The Post.

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