Ex-Louisville Cardinals coach Rick Pitino files lawsuit against Adidas

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 17, 2017 at 8:32 PM
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Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino filed a lawsuit against Adidas on Tuesday, one day after the apparel company terminated its personal services contract with him.

Pitino was officially fired by Louisville on Monday in the wake of an FBI investigation into fraud and corruption in college basketball. Hours later, Adidas ended its agreement with the beleaguered coach.

Pitino's suit against Adidas was filed in U.S. District Court and seeks unspecified actual damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.

The FBI allegations against Louisville include payments of $100,000 to the family of an unnamed player to sign with the Cardinals. The player is believed to be five-star freshman Brian Bowen, who committed to Louisville in early June. Bowen was suspended indefinitely shortly after the FBI announced the results of the investigation.

Pitino insists he wasn't involved with that situation.

"In today's lawsuit, Coach Pitino swears that he had nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, the Adidas conspiracy," said Steve Pence, Pitino's attorney, referring to the college basketball fraud investigation that involves Louisville and Adidas.

Pitino's suit alleges that the actions of an Adidas employee "caused him to be publicly ridiculed, vilified, and criticized, precisely because their actions make it appear that Coach Pitino knew about or participated in their conspiracy," Pence said.

Pitino stands to lose the $44 million remaining in salary and bonuses on his Louisville contract through the 2025-26 season since he was fired with cause. He was the highest paid coach in college basketball this year at $7.8 million, which includes a retention bonus and his personal Adidas contract, according to USA Today.

One of the most successful college basketball coaches in history, Pitino, 65, was 416-143 in 16 seasons as Louisville head coach and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball 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 NCAA penalties depending on the outcome of the current investigation.

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