Rick Pitino’s emotional distress lawsuit against Adidas—truly a bold “vehicle for proving that he had nothing to do with Adidas’ outrageous, wrongful, and illegal conspiracy” to put good basketball players onto his basketball team—was dismissed Tuesday by the U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Kentucky.
Judge David Hale reportedly agreed with Adidas that, per the details of Pitino’s endorsement deal, the case must be settled in arbitration, and in Oregon, the home of Adidas’ North American headquarters.
Pitino essentially alleged in the suit that Adidas deliberately damaged his reputation, by engaging in behavior—paying money to good players so that they’d play basketball for Pitino at Louisville—that would subject Pitino to “inevitable” ridicule and vilification. Hale’s dismissal of the suit doesn’t say that any of that is as whacky as it sounds, merely that the substance of Pitino’s claims likely falls within what is covered by his contract with Adidas:
“Here, the facts underlying Pitino’s tort and contract claims are identical: both claims are based on Adidas’s alleged bribing of a University of Louisville basketball recruit or his family,” Hale wrote. “... Given this standard and the shared factual basis between the claims, the Court finds that the claim asserted here is ‘at least arguably covered by’ the Endorsement Agreement.”
This has always seemed like a wild example of a man biting the hand that fed the absolute hell out of him. Adidas is accused of funneling money to players to bring them to Louisville, where they would ostensibly help Pitino win basketball glory; Pitino also personally collected 98 percent—as much as $2.25 million a year—of the school’s apparel deal with Adidas, in addition to more than $5 million a year in salary, earned in large part precisely because of his history of recruiting success. Whatever discomfort Pitino is now suffering as a result of this latest scandal, it sure seems like he’s already been amply compensated for it.