Louisville basketball team deserves “the death penalty”

Readability

Louisville basketball team deserves "the death penalty"

By John Ruberry

Last week I wrote this in my own blog about a scandal-​plagued state uni­ver­sity in Ken­tucky: “Is Louisville a col­lege with an ath­letic pro­gram? Or is it an ath­letic pro­gram that offers some col­lege classes?”

Late last month the shad­owy and cor­rupt realm of NCAA men’s col­lege bas­ket­ball, whose play­ers are nom­i­nally ama­teurs, was shat­tered by the rev­e­la­tion of an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion of pay­ments to recruits that allegedly comes from Adi­das. Ten peo­ple have been arrested, includ­ing four assis­tant coaches at Power Five col­lege hoops pro­grams. More arrests are expected.

But most of the media focus on the scan­dal is on the the Uni­ver­sity of Louisville, where no one so far faces charges. Allegedly an AAU coach, Jonathan Brad Augus­tine, whose team is spon­sored by Adi­das, boasted to an under­cover FBI agent about the reach of Car­di­nals coach Rick Pitino – who is iden­ti­fied as “Coach-​2″ in court records – and how Pitino could get James “Jim” Gatto, the direc­tor of global sports mar­ket­ing for bas­ket­ball at Adi­das, to send $100,000 to the fam­ily of a Louisville recruit. That ath­lete, Brian Bowen, enrolled at Louisville. But now he’s been sus­pended from the team.

Oh, the first “A” in AAU stands for “amatuer.”

No one swings a big­ger d – k than [Coach-​2],” Augus­tine report­edly said after learn­ing that Gatto had dif­fi­culty in allegedly send­ing the $100K to Bowen’s fam­ily. He added that “all [Coach-​2] has to do is pick up the phone and call some­body [and say], ‘These are my guys – they’re tak­ing care of us.’”

Those remarks appear to have been lifted from a Sopra­nos script.

Pitino, and Louisville’s ath­letic direc­tor, Tom Jurich, were sus­pended by the uni­ver­sity the day after the scan­dal broke. Both of them are expected to be fired but in the mean­time they are the high­est paid per­sons in their posi­tions in col­lege sports.

But despite its suc­cess on the field – Louisville has a pretty good foot­ball team by the way–the ath­letic depart­ment loses money. Appar­ently Louisville man­ages its ath­letic depart­ment as poorly as the state of Ken­tucky runs its public-​worker pen­sion pro­grams.

Pitino is the only NCAA men’s bas­ket­ball coach to win national cham­pi­onships at two uni­ver­si­ties, Ken­tucky and Louisville. But four months ago the Car­di­nals pro­gram landed on NCAA pro­ba­tion because of a pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal involv­ing recruits, some of whom were under­age. Uh, where are the Louisville Police? The NCAA sus­pended Pitino for five games and Louisville will have to vacate some vic­to­ries – and pos­si­bly its 2013 NCAA title. Pitino claims igno­rance of the hir­ing of these “dancers” by the pro­gram. He also claimed to be sim­ply a put-​upon vic­tim in a extor­tion attempt by a woman, Karen Sypher, who alleged that Pitino raped her. The Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame coach, who is mar­ried, admit­ted to con­sen­sual sex with Sypher – she later went to prison. Pitino also admit­ted to pay­ing for her abor­tion.

Because Louisville’s men’s hoops pro­gram is already on pro­ba­tion, it’s likely that the Car­di­nals are eli­gi­ble for the NCAA “death penalty” if they are found to be a two-​time offender. The death penalty allows the NCAA to shut down a pro­gram for at least a year.

I say cut down the nets and turn off the lights for Louisville bas­ket­ball, prefer­ably for sev­eral years. The pos­si­bil­ity of the death penalty has hold­ers of the junk bonds financ­ing the sta­dium where the Car­di­nals play under­stand­ably a bit nervous.

At the very least Louisville needs a fresh start, but so far it’s off to a dread­ful one. Pitino’s interim replace­ment is one of his for­mer play­ers, David Pad­gett, who until two years ago was direc­tor of bas­ket­ball oper­a­tions at Louisville. Was Pad­gett a glo­ri­fied clerk? Or a figurehead?

Louisville has other prob­lems and one of them involves Adi­das. Of the money from the cur­rent mar­ket­ing con­tract the shoe giant has with the bas­ket­ball team, report­edly 98 per­cent of it goes to Pitino. Shouldn’t the gen­eral rev­enue fund of this taxpayer-​supported col­lege get at least a healthy cut?

Jurich, the money-​losing sus­pended ath­letic direc­tor, likely earned more money annu­ally than the bud­gets of four Louisville aca­d­e­mic depart­ments.

This scan­dal has legs longer than those of the late Manute Bol – and I’m pre­dict­ing not only will it spread to other col­leges and AAU pro­grams but to high school hoops as well, start­ing with the Chicago Pub­lic League. Lack of pay­ments prob­a­bly explains why the Chicago recruit­ing appa­ra­tus for years shuts out bas­ket­ball pro­grams such as DePaul and the one at my alma mater, the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Urbana-​Champaign. Both schools are nat­ural fits for Pub­lic League tal­ent and both of them used to recruit very suc­cess­fully in Chicago.

Do you have a bet­ter explanation?

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Last week I wrote this in my own blog about a scandal-plagued state university in Kentucky: “Is Louisville a college with an athletic program? Or is it an athletic program that offers some college classes?”

Late last month the shadowy and corrupt realm of NCAA men’s college basketball, whose players are nominally amateurs, was shattered by the revelation of an FBI investigation of payments to recruits that allegedly comes from Adidas. Ten people have been arrested, including four assistant coaches at Power Five college hoops programs. More arrests are expected.

But most of the media focus on the scandal is on the the University of Louisville, where no one so far faces charges. Allegedly an AAU coach, Jonathan Brad Augustine, whose team is sponsored by Adidas, boasted to an undercover FBI agent about the reach of Cardinals coach Rick Pitino–who is identified as “Coach-2” in court records–and how Pitino could get James “Jim” Gatto, the director of global sports marketing for basketball at Adidas, to send $100,000 to the family of a Louisville recruit. That athlete, Brian Bowen, enrolled at Louisville. But now he’s been suspended from the team.

Oh, the first “A” in AAU stands for “amatuer.”

“No one swings a bigger d–k than [Coach-2],” Augustine reportedly said after learning that Gatto had difficulty in allegedly sending the $100K to Bowen’s family. He added that “all [Coach-2] has to do is pick up the phone and call somebody [and say], ‘These are my guys–they’re taking care of us.'”

Those remarks appear to have been lifted from a Sopranos script.

Pitino, and Louisville’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, were suspended by the university the day after the scandal broke. Both of them are expected to be fired but in the meantime they are the highest paid persons in their positions in college sports.

But despite its success on the field–Louisville has a pretty good football team by the way–the athletic department loses money. Apparently Louisville manages its athletic department as poorly as the state of Kentucky runs its public-worker pension programs.

Pitino is the only NCAA men’s basketball coach to win national championships at two universities, Kentucky and Louisville. But four months ago the Cardinals program landed on NCAA probation because of a prostitution scandal involving recruits, some of whom were underage. Uh, where are the Louisville Police? The NCAA suspended Pitino for five games and Louisville will have to vacate some victories–and possibly its 2013 NCAA title. Pitino claims ignorance of the hiring of these “dancers” by the program. He also claimed to be simply a put-upon victim in a extortion attempt by a woman, Karen Sypher, who alleged that Pitino raped her. The Basketball Hall of Fame coach, who is married, admitted to consensual sex with Sypher–she later went to prison. Pitino also admitted to paying for her abortion.

Because Louisville’s men’s hoops program is already on probation, it’s likely that the Cardinals are eligible for the NCAA “death penalty” if they are found to be a two-time offender. The death penalty allows the NCAA to shut down a program for at least a year.

I say cut down the nets and turn off the lights for Louisville basketball, preferably for several years. The possibility of the death penalty has holders of the junk bonds financing the stadium where the Cardinals play understandably a bit nervous.

At the very least Louisville needs a fresh start, but so far it’s off to a dreadful one. Pitino’s interim replacement is one of his former players, David Padgett, who until two years ago was director of basketball operations at Louisville. Was Padgett a glorified clerk? Or a figurehead?

Louisville has other problems and one of them involves Adidas. Of the money from the current marketing contract the shoe giant has with the basketball team, reportedly 98 percent of it goes to Pitino. Shouldn’t the general revenue fund of this taxpayer-supported college get at least a healthy cut?

Jurich, the money-losing suspended athletic director, likely earned more money annually than the budgets of four Louisville academic departments.

This scandal has legs longer than those of the late Manute Bol–and I’m predicting not only will it spread to other colleges and AAU programs but to high school hoops as well, starting with the Chicago Public League. Lack of payments probably explains why the Chicago recruiting apparatus for years shuts out basketball programs such as DePaul and the one at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both schools are natural fits for Public League talent and both of them used to recruit very successfully in Chicago.

Do you have a better explanation?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.