In what is almost certainly a coincidence and not at all a product of a notoriously calculated, petty former head coach being calculated and petty, Rick Pitino released a lengthy statement Friday afternoon regarding Louisville’s decision to fire him, minutes before the Cardinals announced his replacement.
Pitino kept true to the previous statement he issued on Tuesday—the one in which he said the allegations “came as a shock” and were the result of “a few bad actors”—further denying any prior knowledge of his coaching staff partnering with Adidas executives to pay high school athletes for their commitments. While he doesn’t explicitly mention his intentions to take legal action, he adds that just as Louisville did what “they thought was necessary,” he will do the same. (Pitino’s lawyers have already threatened a “bare-knuckle fight” should the school fire him, claiming—like any good lawyer does when they’re defending someone who addresses facts as they suit their personal needs—that the facts of the case will “inevitably exonerate him.”) Pitino also gave a shoutout to since-fired Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who reportedly got the axe after he refused to fire the longtime Louisville men’s basketball coach.
Meanwhile, Louisville introduced 32-year-old assistant coach David Padgett as the team’s interim coach for the 2017-18 season at a press conference scheduled for 5 p.m. Padgett, a former Louisville player under Pitino, said that the remaining Louisville staff members won’t know about their long-term job safety until the school hires an interim athletic director, which interim president Greg Postel said wouldn’t be until next week at the earliest.
It really is jarring, and telling, of the NCAA’s bylaws that what got the routinely shady but successful coach canned wasn’t the scandal where his staff member paid for underage recruits to receive blowjobs and sex, but the one where his staff instead handed that cash directly to the players.
Pitino’s full statement can be read below:
There’s been a lot of turmoil the last few days and I’ve intentionally avoided making any public statements—primarily because so few facts are known. But I wish to make a few now.
First, I want to thank all my players from Providence, UK and Louisville. Your support means more to me than I can possibly express.
Second, to the many friends and fans who reached out to me in the last few days: I owe a thousand thanks and an apology for the disappointment you must have.
Third, as I’ve previously stated, I had no knowledge of any payments to any recruit or their family. But I was the head coach and I will take ownership of my decisions. The University took the action they thought was necessary and I will do the same.
Finally, Tom Jurich is the best athletic director in the country, and thanks to him I coached Louisville basketball for over sixteen years where we witnessed many great things. From Conference USA, AAC, Big East and now the ACC. I am proud of our many accomplishments and appreciate the continued support of the Louisville community. Again, a thousand thanks.