Rick Pitino reportedly fired after University of Louisville is linked to college basketball bribery scandal

Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino is leaving Louisville after 16 years as the university’s head men’s basketball coach. Joe Robbins/Getty

Head men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is out at the University of Louisville one day after the FBI arrested 10 people on charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball, according to ESPN.

Pitino had reportedly told his staff that he expected to be fired over the allegations. The school’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, was also let go on Wednesday.

According to an undercover agent working with the investigation, an executive at Adidas and several other defendants allegedly funnelled $US100,000 to the family of a high-school basketball player to persuade the player to sign with an unnamed public research university in Kentucky. 

The complaint doesn’t name the university, but, based on details provided, it was almost certainly the University of Louisville, which signed a $US160 million sponsorship deal with Adidas in August. The complaint notes that news the allegedly bribed student would attend Louisville seemed to come “out of nowhere” in early June; on June 3, five-star recruit Brian Bowen surprised many by announcing plans to play for the school. 

At least two coaches at the university seemed aware of plans to bribe the player, according to the complaint. In fact, one of the defendants — Jonathan Brad Augustine, the program director of an Adidas-sponsored teen basketball program — allegedly said that he expected the school to fund future bribes to the student. 

“No one swings a bigger d— than [Coach-2]” at Adidas, Augustine said according to an undercover agent, referring to a coach for the college’s basketball team. 

Rickk Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals

Pitino said in a statement on Tuesday that he was shocked by allegations. 

“If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and basketball programs, including the University of Louisville,” the statement read in part.

Many people began calling for Pitino’s firing or resignation as it became clear that Louisville had been implicated in the FBI investigation. 

In 2016, Pitino was charged in a prostitution scandal in which Louisville staffers paid for the services of a former escort. In June, the NCAA put Louisville on four years of probation and suspended Pitino for five games for failing to properly oversee the program.