Rick Pitino is 'Coach-2' in paying player scandal, report says

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 28, 2017 at 2:14 PM
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Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, who has been placed on unpaid administrative leave amid a federal investigation into fraud and corruption, is the "Coach-2" who played a role in funneling money to a recruit, multiple outlets reported.

CBS News initially reported that Pitino is "Coach-2" in a criminal complaint released Tuesday by the Justice Department.

"Coach-2" is referenced nine times in the document -- including once when Christian Dawkins, a former agent for ASM Sports, is quoted as saying he had "spoken with Coach-2 about getting additional money for Player-10's family."

Dawkins also was quoted as saying he had told Coach-2 he needs "to call Jim Gatto, who's the head of everything" at Adidas.

Court records said Gatto "spoke directly with Coach-2 multiple times in the days before (freshman Brian Bowen, who has been identified as "Player-10") publicly committed" to Louisville.

The criminal complaint states that Gatto conspired to funnel approximately $100,000 from Adidas to Bowen's family in exchange for the five-star prospect's commitment to Louisville, which has a $160 million shoe and apparel contract with Adidas.

"On or about June 3, 2017, (Bowen) officially committed to (Louisville) in return for the commitment by Gatto and (Adidas) to pay $100,000 for his family," the FBI complaint reads.

Interim Louisville president Greg Postel said Wednesday that one unidentified Cardinals player has been suspended indefinitely and withheld from practices and workouts. Sources told ESPN that Postel was referring to Bowen, who is featured prominently but not named in federal prosecutors' allegations of corruption in college recruiting.

Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on leave following brief face-to-face meetings with Postel on Wednesday.

Pitino's attorney called the move a firing and the coach will be unpaid on terms of what Louisville said was "effective discharge," according to Pitino's lawyer.

Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave until a university Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for Oct. 16, where it is likely he will be fired.

Pitino reportedly stands to lose $44 million remaining on his existing contract, per Yahoo Sports, if fired with cause. According to his contract, Pitino must be given 10 days' notice before any firing can be official.

On Tuesday, an FBI probe alleged coaches, agents and financial advisers linked to several different universities bribed collegiate basketball players. Louisville announced on that day that it was informed the university was a focal point of the investigation.

Jurich was disciplined first Wednesday morning following a very brief meeting with Postel. Upon Jurich's exit, Pitino entered the president's office and walked out expecting it could be one of his final days at Louisville.

"I'm more angry than embarrassed," Postel said at Wednesday's news conference in reaction to the federal bribery investigation. "We will be looking for someone with integrity. There's no reason this team can't have a good season.

"It is vital for this university to strictly adhere to the NCAA rules and of course federal law. Failure to do that would be a tacit endorsement of criminal behavior."

Pitino on Tuesday said in a statement he was not aware of the fraud and corruption charges that brought the FBI to the campus as part of a national probe launched by the United States Department of Justice.

"These allegations come as a complete shock to me," Pitino said in a statement. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorneys Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable."

One of the most successful college basketball coaches in history, Pitino was 416-143 in 16 seasons as Louisville head coach and is in the Naismith Hall of Fame with 770 career victories.

Already on probation for a scandal involving strippers and escorts entertaining recruits and other players in dorm rooms -- Pitino also said last year he was unaware of those actions -- the Louisville basketball program could face severe penalties depending on the outcome of the current investigation.

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