It’s one thing for Rick Pitino to deny any direct knowledge of L’affaire Louisville. But it’s another thing for him to act as though he lives on a different planet from realiity.
Unless Slick Rick was dumber than he appears there will be no paper trail uncovered that shows a direct link to him sponsoring the stripper and sex parties. There will be no $500 checks signed by Pitino, made out to Destiny and Dimples, discovered by the NCAA. There will be no PayPal withdrawal made by Katina Powell from RickyPCards@hotmail.com.
So Pitino can hide behind plausible deniability all he wants, that one-size-fits-all cloak that NCAA coaches have used forever. Doesn’t mean the program is safe from losing scholarships or vacating wins. But it does mean that UofL will never be forced to admit its head coach had direct involvment with delivering its players escorts.
Pitino may very well save his job, but his credibility has been shattered. And that’s saying something from a lifetime of acting shocked and appalled at the seediness of college sports, then finding himself sleeping in the muddy ditches anyway.
Ricky has gone to the tried and true hand guide of painting this as a simple money grab. “This is all about money. People will say and do anything for money,” he told ESPN. She’s lying to sell books! Which may be true. It’s easy to defame and discredit a former escort instead of a national champion head coach. But where’s the financial gain for the multiple former players and recruits who confirmed the story? ESPN isn’t paying them for their testimony, they haven’t even gotten notoriety because they were anonymous. One unnamed recruit said, “It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.” Sorry Rick. No money there except the dollar bills they made it rain with.
Pitino then went to the stick-your-head-in-the-sand routine. “You’re not gonna get players by doing those types of things… what was behind this? What was the reason? An educated person can’t think you’re gonna get a recruit with a stripper coming in. This is University of Louisville, you don’t need any artificial help.” Funny, because you know what the rest of the world assumes? That free, naked, older women in the dorms would be exactly the type of thing that may interest 17 and 18-year-old boys. Why would Pitino staffer Andre McGee set up hooker parties with recruits? To bore them? If juniors and seniors in high school are so disinterested in naked women, why didn’t McGee set up library parties? Or maybe take the recruits to the chem lab for protozoa study? Not to mention the Cardinals are locked in an eternal battle with rival Kentucky for every major recruit in the nation. The Wildcats keep signing every McDonald’s All-American that jumps out of the nugget fryer, and has created an NBA draft pick factory. But I guess Louisville doesn’t need any help with that.
Pitino, though, doubled down on his inner Eddie Haskell when he said, “I don’t believe in any form of cheating at all to get an advantage. With a recruit or yelling at an official. I’m just totally against it.” Oh no Mrs. Cleaver, I wouldn’t even raise my voice at a referee. That’s how polite and upstanding I am. Well, golly gee Ward. My eyes must be deceving me here, and here… oh, and here. First, he’s comparing breaking the rules to gain a recruit to screaming at officials over a blocking call. But more impressively, he’s lying so badly it’s laughable. He’s not only the first coach in the history of the world to never scold a ref. He’s also assuming we have never watched him coach a basketball game.
Pitino obviously has a sterling personal conduct reputation, so we can believe him on all this. I mean, there was that one time he cheated on his wife by having sex at a restaurant, then paid for her abortion to cover it all up. But let’s not split hairs here.
If Louisville wants to keep employing Pitino, that’s up to them. I don’t think its hand will be forced because more than likely there will be no smoking gun leading directly to Ricky. McGee will become the fall guy, he’ll be tarred and feathered, and Pitino will go on coaching the Cardinals. But in defending himself, Pitino has been so ridiculously out-of-touch he’s already lost the little credibility he had left.
D.A. hosts 6-10pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.