Last year, a book written by a self-described madam detailed allegations that the Louisville basketball program provided strippers for team parties within the dorms, and that some of the strippers were paid to have sex with athletes, as a means of attracting recruits. Former graduate assistant Andre McGee was accused of financing and arranging the parties, but it seemed highly likely that head coach Rick Pitino and other members of the organization would have known about such expensive, widespread sexual misconduct.
It seems the NCAA agrees, releasing a Notice of Allegations today that details four violations, including one against Pitino for failing to sufficiently monitor his staff.
At a press conference to comment on the accusations, Pitino started out by saying, “let me digress a little bit.” If you know anything about Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino, you might have guessed where this digression was headed.
“Fifteen-plus years ago, a plane went through the World Trade Center,” Pitino continues, “and it altered the life of my family completely.” This is a true statement—not just because of how life-altering the events of 9/11 were for the entire country but specifically because Pitino’s brother-in-law Billy Minardi, who worked as a bond trader, died in the attacks.
This is a deeply sympathetic experience, and it’s not unreasonable that Pitino would still be affected by it today. It is, however, a little unreasonable that he thinks it’s relevant to a sexual misconduct investigation—even if the dorm where the stripper parties and transactional sex went down is named after his late brother-in-law.
“The reason I bring all this up,” Pitino says, “When this all broke, cause I don’t believe in paranoia but for a span of two weeks I had paranoia: what was going on here? Couldn’t fathom any of this happening.” He goes on to talk about the security in the dorm and managers living in the dorm, and social media(?). But that doesn’t really explain why he brings it up. And I have a hunch that he brings it up because, well, that’s just what Rick Pitino does.
He brought up 9/11—twice—in 2009 while discussing the Karen Sypher extortion case. And again when discussing Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury in the 2013 NCAA tournament. (He also brings it up at more reasonable times, like on the 10-year anniversary of the attack.) It’s a little icky to shame a guy for being hung up on a horrible tragedy. But then again, it’s a little icky to invoke your dead brother-in-law’s name as a defense against hiring hookers.
According to the AP, “The NCAA’s letter is the first step in a process that could extend into next spring. Louisville has 90 days to respond.”
So anyway, does Pitino accept responsibility? Only of being too trusting: