Fired Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino: 'I will fight tirelessly to defend my reputation'
On Sunday, former University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino signed a sworn affidavit that detailed his response to the university's termination letter and the scandals that led to his removal.
"The assertions contained in (the University of Louisville Athletic Association) termination letter impugn my integrity, honesty and commitment to ethics in sports," Pitino wrote in the affidavit. "I reject those assertions. I will fight tirelessly to defend my reputation."
Here's a summary of the highlights of Pitino's affidavit:
Pitino is not disputing being fired
However, he "vehemently" rejects being fired "for cause," and that's because there is more than $40 million at stake in such a distinction.
That's the amount the Hall of Fame coach would have received over the remainder of his contract, which was to expire in 2026.
So this sets up a likely legal battle moving forward — deciding how much money the University of Louisville will owe Pitino for ending the contract. Pitino is arguing that he'd be owed the remainder of his contract, which U of L isn't obligated to pay when a firing is "for cause," as was the action the board took on Monday.
U of L changed its tune on escort scandal
In documents released at Monday's University of Louisville Athletic Association hearing, Pitino's legal team argued that U of L interim President Greg Postel sided against the penalties Pitino received as a result of the NCAA infractions case currently on appeal, repeatedly quoting Postel as saying the ruling was unfair to Pitino, "who we believe could not have known about the illicit activities."
"That was UL's position on September 26, 2017. And yet, on October 4, 2017 – eight days later – ULAA asserted that I should have known about those activities," Pitino wrote in the affidavit. "I reject that about-face. I believe that ULAA learned nothing new about the escort matter between September 26 and October 4, 2017, to justify that about-face."
U of L's appeal called the sanctions "draconian" (though it's worth noting that Pitino was to appeal his own sanctions separately).
The FBI's investigation is ongoing
Pitino continues to deny any role in the conspiracy detailed in the FBI complaint that led to his being placed on administrative leave and "effectively fired," per his attorney.
"ULAA is rushing to judgment, condemning me for actions that the NCAA is only beginning to investigate," Pitino wrote.
Pitino also stated that he "had no part — active, passive or through willful ignorance — in the conspiracy described in the complaint."
Pitino's relationship with Gatto, Dawkins
Pitino admitted that he knows and has communicated with Adidas executive Jim Gatto, who was charged as a result of the FBI complaint but wrote that "I have never discussed with him — overtly, covertly, in code, through nuance, or in any other way — the provision of improper benefits to any UL basketball player or recruit."
Louisville's termination letter said Pitino didn't notify the school when Christian Dawkins, an agent, was on campus. Pitino replied, "So far as I know, Christian Dawkins is not a sports agent."
Leaving town:Rick Pitino's house in Louisville is now up for sale
Meanwhile, Pitino specifically denied a statement in the FBI's complaint attributed to Dawkins that he needed Pitino to call Gatto about getting additional money for payments. "No such conversation took place," Pitino said.
(This portion of the affidavit is also basically an admission that Pitino is "Coach 2" in the FBI's complaint.)
Pitino has been interviewed by the FBI
Pitino said he voluntarily met with FBI agents to answer questions in recent weeks and left the door open to future discussions.
"I told them everything I knew and fully answered any questions they had," Pitino said. "I will continue to do so."