The clusterfuck of Rick Pitino getting fired by Louisville amid an FBI corruption investigation is only getting more complicated. While Pitino has active suits open against his former school for wrongful termination and Adidas for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Louisville has now countersued Pitino for breach of contract and negligence as they seek damages for vacated NCAA honors and the university’s now-diminished reputation.
The corruption scandal broke right before Pitino’s firing, but both parties are also litigating Louisville’s escort-recruiting scandal, which led to the NCAA forcing Louisville to vacate wins and return postseason money from 2012-15. Louisville did not immediately fire Pitino after the scandal, but listed the violations as one of the reasons for his October termination. Pitino’s original suit claimed that Louisville’s ongoing appeal conflicted with the school’s claim that the violations were a breach of contract for the coach, but Louisville has replied that they’re only contesting the penalties, not the fact of the violations themselves.
Pitino also denies that he had any knowledge of or involvement in the conspiracy that paid the family of Louisville recruit Brian Bowen to come play for Pitino. The countersuit, however, notes that even if Pitino was totally ignorant of the payment, it’s his job to manage and supervise the basketball team, and if assistant coaches or administrators were breaking the rules, he would be responsible. They’re using Pitino’s own words against him here, as the countersuit quotes an ESPN interview with Jay Bilas right after he was fired.
“During this interview, Mr. Pitino stated that he took ‘full responsibility’ for his hiring decisions,” it says.
Whether he knew or not about the violations, Louisville says, Pitino was negligent, and in addition to repayment for any bonuses paid to Pitino for now-vacated achievements, they’re seeking damages for the NCAA violations that the school says Pitino brought on them. “Mr. Pitino, and not the University, was the active wrongdoer,” Louisville says.
The full countersuit is embedded below: