University of Louisville scandal will cost Rick Pitino endorsement money too, experts say

Sheldon S. Shafer
Courier Journal
UofL head basketball coach Rick Pitino arrives at Grawemeyer Hall to have a meeting with interim president Greg Postel.  His meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.
September 27, 2017

Over the years, University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has made a bundle through speaking engagements and endorsements.

But with Pitino "effectively fired" in the wake of an FBI investigation into a pay to play recruiting scheme, he's likely to take a hit in the wallet, some University of Louisville followers and sports agents acknowledge.

That could mean the loss of millions of dollars for Pitino, who was identified as Coach 2 in the FBI's investigation on Thursday by a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Celebrity Net Worth estimates Pitino's total holdings at $25 million, and Pitino reportedly had an income of more than $7 million last year, from his university contract and endorsements.

Must read: Pitino is Coach 2 in FBI 'pay for play' investigation, law enforcement official says

Also:Pitino's status as "Coach 2" could give U of L an out on paying off $46M due on contract

According to various websites, Pitino could be booked for speaking engagements for $50,000 and up.

A USA Today story last March said Pitino earned just over $1.9 million in outside income for the 2013 calendar year. And in 2015, his outside income was nearly $800,000, more than any public school football or men’s basketball coach had reported since USA Today began tracking coaches’ compensation during the 2006-07 school year. 

Richard Katz of Katz Management Group in Cincinnati, which represents the business interests of numerous athletes but has never dealt with Pitino, said that "obviously, (Pitino) still has a good reputation, as a basketball coach. But on the other side of the coin, his personal reputation is now at risk."

Katz predicted that there is at least an even chance that Pitino will lose some of his outside employability due to the scandal.

Media relations officials with the Rally's restaurant chain, which signed Pitino to an endorsement deal in 2008 for undisclosed terms, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

More:'More angry than embarrassed': Interim president suspends Pitino, Jurich

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Looking ahead:Ex-Indiana coach Crean opens as betting favorite to replace Pitino

Direct Sportslink, a Cincinnati-based company that arranges celebrity appearances, said it had booked Pitino for events, but a man who answered the phone at the firm said he was "not interested in having any quotes or any publicity" related to Pitino.

Officials with Premiere Global Sports Athletes & Celebrities, a New York City-based company that says on its website that it can arrange speeches by Pitino for "$50,000 and up," couldn't be reached for comment.

In Louisville, business executive Mark Lynn, who owns a string of Visionworks eye-care stores and has been one of U of L's biggest sports boosters, said he probably wouldn't hire Pitino to represent his business. "I doubt if anyone would," he said.

Businessman Bill Stone, who has been a longtime ardent supporter of the University of Louisville, acknowledged that the scandal may limit Pitino's outside appearances and endorsements. 

But Stone said he thinks Pitino retains a lot of his credibility and popularity, because "he has accomplished a lot in life. He is extremely charitable. He is very intelligent."

Stone said that in a month or so, "50 more coaches and schools" could be named in the FBI investigation and Pitino and the University of Louisville "will be small change."

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Next:Who will Louisville hire to replace Rick Pitino as men's basketball coach?

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According to a form Pitino filed with the NCAA detailing some of the sources of his outside income, the coach received $60,000 from KentuckyOne Health and $70,000 from Central Bank & Trust in 2015 for endorsements. 

KentuckyOne Health spokesman David McArthur said Pitino is still under contract but that the contract will not be renewed after this year. But he said that's because of a decision to cut its holdings in Louisville and has nothing to do with the recent scandal.

Central Bank executive Mark Wheeler didn't return phone calls Thursday.

Pitino also was available through a company called at one point. The company said it could arrange, for an unlisted price, to have Pitino call a friend or acquaintance of your choice and send that person a greeting.

Jeff Brodie, an agent with Sports Management Worldwide based in Portland, Oregon, which handles appearances by sports personalities, said Pitino probably can still find some work. 

Brodie, whose firm has not done business with Pitino, said Pitino should get at least some speaking engagements mainly “by virtue of his name recognition. I think he can find success going forward. Sure, there are two or three blips on his radar, but time heals all wounds.”

Fighting back:Rick Pitino's lawyers: The facts will 'inevitably exonerate him'

More:University of Louisville basketball scandal: Jurich calls situation 'heartbreaking'

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Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at 502-582-7089, or via email at