Rick Pitino was officially fired as Louisville men’s basketball coach on Monday, after a bribery scandal rocked the university.
In the FBI complaint, Adidas executive Jim Gatto and other defendants are accused of funelling $US100,000 to the family of a high-school basketball player who committed to Louisville. Pitino said that he “had no part — active, passive or through willful ignorance” in the bribery in an affidavit Monday, ESPN reported.
According to papers released by Pitino’s own lawyer, however, the coach and Gatto were in touch. Pitino says that they never discussed improperly paying a player to play at Louisville, in violation of NCAA rules.
In documents assembled by Pitino’s lawyer, obtained by Spectrum Sports reporter Lyndsey Gough, Gatto and Pitino apparently discuss former Louisville player Terry Rozier via text message. Pitino also asks if Gatto can get him a pair of Yeezy sneakers, Kanye West’s sneaker brand — which both men misspell.
“Thx Jim -excited about this team -can u give me those white with black stripes Yeesys,” Pitino texted Gatto, according to the documents.
“Working on that colour of Yezzy’s,” Gatto responded. “There is a newer all white pair as well that might be easier for me to get.”
In and of themselves, texts about Yeezy sneakers and a coach taking interest in a former player’s potential contract with Adidas would not be grounds for terminating a coach’s contract. In fact, Pitino’s lawyer will likely use these texts as evidence that, while Pitino was in touch with Gatto, Pitino was unaware of any alleged bribery.
However, Louisville’s relationship with Adidas is presenting a major problem for the university right now.
The FBI complaint states that at least two coaches at the university seemed aware of plans to bribe the player. In fact, an undercover agent described one of the defendants — Jonathan Brad Augustine, the program director of an Adidas-sponsored teen basketball program — as saying he expected Adidas to fund future bribes to the student in part because of the company’s relationship to a coach at the school.
“No one swings a bigger d— than [Coach-2]” at Adidas, the agent described Augustine as saying. The complaint did not identify the coach.
The unnamed Coach 2 has been assumed to be Pitino. A phone number associated with the coach called Gatto twice during the period that Gatto was allegedly involved in the plan to bribe the high school player.
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