The only man (until today) more impervious to scandal than legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino is Donald Trump. However, the house of cards built by Pitino, who’s won the NCAA tournament twice and made seven Final Fours, came crashing down following a damning Las Vegas encounter secretly videotaped by the FBI where one of Pitino’s assistants explicitly discussed an Adidas-backed plan to pay $100,000 to the family of a Louisville recruit, who would in turn sign with Adidas after going pro.
BREAKING: Rick Pitino's attorney to Courier-Journal: Louisville basketball coach put on administrative leave, `effectively fired'
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 27, 2017
Let’s not mince words; Pitino is no stranger to scandal. There was the incident in 2003 where he paid a woman $3,000 in abortion hush money after having sex with her in a restaurant. Plot twist: the very same woman — the wife of a Louisville equipment manager, no less — was found guilty by a federal district court in 2010 of extortion and lying to federal agents.
We’ll call that one a wash. But for years, rumblings about sordid affairs within Louisville’s basketball program have been a poorly kept secret. The NCAA put Louisville on probation this year for a separate scandal involving a different assistant, accused of running an operation involving paying prostitutes to have sex with potential recruits to get them to sign.
But this FBI probe is different. The NCAA investigating one of its marquee programs is like the police investigating the police; there’s clear conflict of interest. The FBI, however, appears to be a more effective arbiter of justice than the NCAA, because it’s not just Pitino & Co. caught up in this investigation. Assistants from four of the five power conferences — the Pac 12, the SEC, the ACC, and the Big 12 — have been arrested, as well as a top Adidas executive.
But it goes deeper. Nike has been ensnared, too.
Sources: Employees of Nike's EYBL grassroots division, along with documents, have been subpoenaed by FBI in furtherance of investigation
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) September 27, 2017
This should come as no surprise to those who follow college basketball. There’s too much money involved for everyone besides the playersand their families not to get a chunk of the pie. College basketball is an industry worth billions annually. Of course the players are getting paid. Only now, it’s all out in the open.