Rick Pitino Fired As Louisville Coach

Louisville Board of Directors reached unanimous decision on Monday

This news should not come as any surprise for those following the corruption scandal involving the Basketball Hall of Fame coach.

Bottom line is this–Rick Pitino is out after 16 years as Louisville Head Coach.  As it stands (unless the NCAA ultimately strips their 2013 championship banner), he is the only coach to win NCAA championships with two different schools–the other while he was at arch-rival Kentucky in the last year that a Final Four took place not in a domed stadium, at the old East Rutherford Arena in New Jersey in 1996.

He was initially given an unpaid administrative leave, unlike former Athletic Director Tom Jurich who was given a paid administrative leave.

ESPN and other broadcast outlets reported that the firing was done “for just cause.”  What that basically means for you non-Criminal Justice majors out there is that according to Wikipedia and thefreedictionary.com website under Employment Law, it means the following:

This type of standard has developed for employees not protected by an employment or a union contract.  This standard developed during the 1980’s is an alternative to the traditional employment at-will doctrine.  Under this doctrine, which has been in place since the late 1800s, employees who do not have an employment contract could be terminated at the will of the employer for any reason, or for no reason at all.  Under the newer just cause standard, many jurisdictions can hold an employer to their word where the employer stated it would not fire employees without just cause.

Before this despicable set of circumstances occurred, the Louisville Cardinals were pegged by many experts to be a Final Four contender, let alone a Top 10 team.  Kiss those predictions good bye because as it stands right now as I typed this blog at 7:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time, I would not be at all surprised to possibly see the NCAA lay down the hammer big time and strip away their 2013 national championship banner.

Unlike what happened with North Carolina this past Friday, where they basically got off scot-free avoiding up to five major violations in their academic scandal involving 13 years of the school giving out fake classes to student-athletes.

Again, this is basically the tip of the iceberg.  By the time the first set of games tip off shortly after Veteran’s Day–hopefully, there will be more clarity going forward in the sport that I have been following passionately since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird dueled for the first time at the 1979 Final Four in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My Fifth Annual Season Preview will be hitting your inboxes soon enough.  In the meantime, please have a good night and a really nice tomorrow.

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David Padgett hired as Head Coach at Louisville

Former player under Rick Pitino takes over following good workout from current team

As promised, acting Louisville President Greg Postel moved quickly and hired David Padgett will be the interim coach for the Louisville Cardinals.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Padgett knows what he is up against.

“It’s gonna be a challenge.  No question about it.”

Interim Head Coach at Louisville David Padgett

In 2007-08, he averaged 11.2 points per game while a senior at Louisville.  Padgett made stops playing overseas before joining IUPUI’s staff in 2000.  He was Louisville’s director of basketball operations since 2014.

With morale on the team in the positive level, that is a good sign going forward.  As for the Basketball Hall of Famer in Rick Pitino, he issued a statement earlier in the day thanking his players during his times spent at Providence, Kentucky, and the last 18 seasons while in Louisville and mentioned again that he hopes investigators will come in with a clean report and that he did not know firsthand any of the allegations:

“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.”

SMALL UPDATE:  Rick Pitino was fired on October 16, three days before the original announcement was supposed to take place.  The Louisville Board of Directors voted unanimously to terminate Coach Pitino “for just cause”.

Common knowledge points to Coach Pitino being fired with cause, since a federal complaint mentioned by ABC News on Thursday has him labeled as “Coach-2” in funneling money to a recruit.  Most coaches, if they were witness to two prior scary events would not have survived.  This time around, coupled with the sex scandal that brought down assistant Andre McGee points Louisville down a very slippery path similar to what happened with Penn State football earlier this decade.

The acting head coach will have a staff in place once their new Athletic Director is hired sometime next week.  No word yet on the fate of the current assistants in Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson.

By the time the season starts, they will be lucky to finish in the Top 7 in the always uber competitive ACC.  Originally pegged as a Sweet 16 team, the fate of their last championship banner won in 2013 clearly hangs in the balance.

 

NCAA needs to change the rules, but will it be enough?

As expected, LaMont Evans was fired on Thursday as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State.

While Louisville is sorting through the Brian Bowen recruiting mess and hoping to hire a new head coach soon, other schools may be next.

After watching former ESPN college basketball analyst Len Elmore talk to Liz Claman on her Countdown to the Closing Bell show on Fox Business, his thoughts are similar to many other people:

As long as there is this underground network of shoe companies paying players and helping coaches recruit quality talent, weeding out the bad guys is far from a done deal.

The NCAA still exists to help the student-athlete.  I never hear anyone in the media say “athlete-student”, as if it was some type of title that was earned.

Clearly, grassroots basketball as it used to exist is mostly past history.

As we all know, doing business in a free market system works–and it works well.  We know where the money goes and we know who benefits the most from it.  But after Wall Street tightened the rules following the 2008 financial crisis, we still see many companies pretty much writing their own rules.

The NCAA uses many players as self-proclaimed billboards.  And until there is some type of “pay-for-play” system that might be used, will there be a system that will eventually level the playing field?  Division II and III schools show that all salaries, revenues, and other expenditures clearly fall in line with each institutions’ stated mission.  Clearly, the balance sheets in most Division I schools need a lot of readjusting.  For those who follow accounting on a daily basis, the assets plus liability may add up way greater than the capital that is being gained.

Of course, in a dream world–school A should earn the same amount as School B.  For hypothetical purposes, it would be totally unfair for schools that reside in a Power 5 Conference to get way more money than a mid-major enrollment school that mostly has players staying in school at least three years (Zach Collins of Gonzaga was the first player from the Spokane, Washington school to leave early for the NBA Draft).  But if the rules that are currently implemented, as archaic as they are–we may hear constantly the phrase “threat to integrity” similar to breakfast places and customers asking for scrambled eggs being done “over easy.”

Money always will find a way, and it usually does.

 

 

College Basketball Is Rocked To Its’ Core

After ten men were arrested on Tuesday, schools like Louisville take immediate and swift action

A three-year probe by the FBI was finally made public on Tuesday morning, and the first of many literal and figurative shoes to drop are causing quite a stench on an already tainted sport.

After hearing this very sad news, as a longtime fan of the sport–it makes me both feel sick and furious.

According to ESPN, CBS Sports, and other reputable media organizations, this is what we know:

The basic 411 has been stemming for decades, going back as far as Sonny Vaccaro and the shady deals with Nike involving Michael Jordan way back in the 1980’s.

Many coaches have been caught red-handed when they were paid tens of thousands of dollars (sometimes into the six figures if you can believe it) to potentially steer NBA-bound players toward sports agents, financial advisers and apparel companies.

Four assistant coaches from prominent schools hoping to reach the 2018 NCAA Tournament have caused more than a black eye at these respective schools for mostly accepting cash bribes–as brought forth in the indictment in New York:

  • Chuck Person (Auburn), former NBA All-Star from the Indiana Pacers
  • Emanuel Richardson (Arizona)
  • Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State)
  • Tony Bland (USC)

The first indictment mentions that those assistant coaches (and possibly other names that have yet to surface) all face charges involving bribery conspiracy, solicitation of such bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest service fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud (across several state lines) and Travel Act conspiracy.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, each of the coaches could face a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.

Expect the head coaches at each of those schools to be shown the door as well, including former Oklahoma State and current Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood.

“This is unlike your typical NCAA infraction.  The FBI has all of the answers to the test.  The key now is, which coaches will be caught lying?”

Freddie Coleman, co-host of Freddie & Fitz, overnight Tuesday on ESPN Radio

A hotline number has been set up to add more pieces to this already complex jigsaw puzzle.

The second indictment involves a very shady man by the name of James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for Adidas.

He helped orchestrate on behalf of an unnamed “sportswear company,” by funneling “six-figure payments” to three players, who then in exchange, committed to play for particular college programs affiliated with that company.

This set of charges includes a reference to a “public research university located in Kentucky.”  Merl Code, another Adidas employee; Christian Dawkins, a former NBA agent; Munish Sood, a financial adviser; Jonathan Brad Augustine, president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program; and Rashan Michel, a former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a custom clothier for athletes were also arrested as part of this complex sting.

Rick Pitino, Louisville AD put on administrative leave

At 11:36 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning, a report on ESPN.com confirmed that longtime Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino (who spent 16 years at the school), along with Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich were both not fired, but put on administrative leave (Coach Pitino is on unpaid leave after 770 wins in 32 years as coach, while Jurich was put on paid leave).  This was largely due to the direct stemming of the program being linked to a federal investigation into fraud and corruption in recruiting.

Coach Pitino, a 1996 national champion while coaching at Kentucky, leaves after earning the most money out of all 380 plus head coaches in men’s college basketball.  ESPN’s Bob Ley from Outside the Lines mentioned a figure somewhere around the $7.6 million range, of which $2.25 million came from Adidas.

“This is a great day for college basketball.”

Former Indiana and Bowling Green head coach and longtime ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, in a Tuesday interview heard on ESPN Radio and SportsCenter

A press conference Wednesday afternoon briefly detailed the charges.  Interim Louisville President Greg Postel promised that a new coach will be hired with “integrity” within the next 48 hours.

Again, this is totally unrelated to the pure garbage from the last seven years:

In 2010, Coach Petino testified in a federal extortion trial involving Karen Sypher, who went to prison after trying to get money and gifts from him in exchange for keeping silent.  Pitino, who is married, admitted to having sex with the woman in a closed Louisville restaurant in 2003.

Five years later, the NCAA launched an investigation into a sex-for-pay scandal organized by former Louisville assistant coach Andre McGee.  The school is still on the hook that could become the first to vacate their 2013 national title and many dozens of victories during that period.   He was initially to be suspended for Louisville’s first five games played in the ACC this upcoming season.   This came after the school self-imposed an NCAA Tournament ban in 2016.

But Tuesday’s news trumped the others by a long shot.

The indictment also included payments of $100,000 from Adidas to the family of an unnamed player, later identified as “Player-10,” to ensure he signs with the school.

The University of Miami was also mentioned in the indictment, and there may be other schools which might be seeing many heads roll in the coming days and weeks.

October 1 typically signals the first day of practice.  But it appears many men will be dropping like flies and frantically preparing from a different style of playbook…a playbook which is never pretty to look at this type of real life story puts some, if not most past Law & Order episodes to shame.

“This is big business for the shoe companies.”

ESPN analyst and former Virginia Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg saying on Outside the Lines Wednesday afternoon

Several years ago, when I was a student in college–one of my professors showed us a docudrama from 1988 with a title that is very complex to understand and difficult to follow:

Do The Guilty Go Free?

For other names that might have dealt in this underground, very shady and dirty world–perhaps after all of these years…justice will hopefully and finally be served.

When CBS Sports signed that billion dollar deal in the late 1990’s to exclusively cover the NCAA Tournament, and the three major shoe companies (Nike, Reebok, and Under Armour) helped many coaches signing six and sometimes seven figure deals–the pure and honest nature of college basketball has been slowly eroding behind the scenes.  I really feel sorry also for the families of any affected players, most of them do not even have first-hand knowledge of such covert deals.

Yes, There Will Be A Season–But Not With The Full Compliment of Players and Coaches Involved

Bottom line–ladies and gentlemen,

This is not the end of the story.

For the ladies reading, think of this as starting Chapter 2 in the novel War and Peace.  Tuesday marked the end of Chapter 1.

I wonder which schools and coaches might be affected next.

To me, this feels like I have to rip up every piece of scrap paper which I was compiling most of the summer so I would have some key notes written down for the season preview and corresponding podcast.

The season is less than 45 days from starting.

If I was a sports writer for the school newspaper, SID, cheerleader, band member, or devoted fan at these so-called “institutions of higher learning”–I would be worried.  Some schools in the preseason Top 30 might be seriously affected in the short term.

The final quote appropriate enough to mention from this blog reporter’s perspective comes from the first NCAA Director of Athletics, the late Walter Byers when he mentioned many decades ago a very relevant statement:

“If fans can’t trust the legitimacy of the games they’re watching, what’s the point?”

Historically speaking, this definitely pales in comparison to the early days before the NCAA enforcement division was actually being created.

Back in the early 1950’s, there was a criminal investigation that saw a massive point-shaving scandal which involved 33 players allegedly fixing 86 games at seven schools affecting 17 different states.

Time for college basketball to hit the reset button

Seriously, what will be the first things coming out of the mouths of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, and Tracy Wolfson when the 2018 NCAA Tournament begins?

Hopefully, it will be the familiar sounds of shoes squeaking, three point shots raining from the sky, and crumpling of printer paper signifying another broken bracket in the many thousands of office pools that take place throughout the United States–strictly “for entertainment purposes only”.

I still plan to cover the season, as dark a black eye it is experiencing at this current time–and will be for months and even years to come.

As a cartoon character named the Blue Falcon mentioned triumphantly years ago with a singular purpose fully in mind:

“There’s a lesson here somewhere.”

 

DePaul’s Wintrust Arena Taking Shape

Thanks to a Chicago college basketball blog simply called The Catch and Shoot, they uploaded a YouTube clip of a time lapse of the installation to the court earlier this month at the new home of the DePaul Blue Demons, Wintrust Arena located on McCormick Place in Chicago.

Please take note of the location of the windows and where most of the seats will be facing–totally the opposite of their former home of the last 37 seasons at the Allstate Arena (nee Rosemont Horizon):

For the most part, the court has only a few small modifications, since the name of Ray and Marge Meyer are located on the near baseline instead of inside the three point arc.  Also, there is a depiction of the legendary Chicago skyline–with the Willis (nee Sears) Tower in the left wing and the John Hancock Center on the far right baseline.

Two more November tournaments Announce Schedules

Gavitt Classic and Big Ten/ACC Challenge should whet fans’ appetite for many interesting games before and after the always hectic Thanksgiving holiday weekend

This past Tuesday (September 12), the Big Ten and Big East Conferences announced their television schedules for the third annual Dave Gavitt Classic, named in honor of the founder of the Big East.

All times are Eastern time for Fox Sports 1 and the Big Ten Newtwork:

Monday, Nov. 13
Minnesota at Providence: FS1, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 14
Purdue at Marquette: FS1, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 15
Indiana at Seton Hall: FS1, 6:30 p.m.
Butler at Maryland: FS1, 8:30 p.m.
Creighton at Northwestern: BTN, 9 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 16
Nebraska at St. John’s: FS1, 6:30 p.m.
Xavier at Wisconsin: FS1, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 17
DePaul at Illinois: BTN, 8:30 p.m.

Also, both conferences mentioned other tip times for other key non-conference games, as listed below:

Saturday, Dec. 9
Nebraska at Creighton: FS1, Noon or 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16
Purdue vs. Butler (Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, Ind.): FOX, Noon
Northwestern at DePaul: FS1, 2 p.m.
Indiana vs. Notre Dame (Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, Ind.): FOX, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 30
Brown at Northwestern (at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.): FS1, Noon

 

On Monday, ESPN announced their slate of games for the 19th Annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge:

Monday, Nov. 27
Maryland at Syracuse: ESPN2, 7p.m. ET
Wisconsin at Virginia: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET

Tuesday, Nov. 28
Northwestern at Georgia Tech: ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
Florida State at Rutgers: ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET
Louisville at Purdue: ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
Iowa at Virginia Tech: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET
Illinois at Wake Forest: ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 29
Clemson at Ohio State: ESPN2, 7:15 p.m. ET
Penn State at NC State: ESPNU, 7:15 p.m. ET
Michigan at North Carolina: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
Miami at Minnesota: ESPN2, 9:15 p.m. ET
Boston College at Nebraska: ESPNU, 9:15 p.m. ET
Duke at Indiana: ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 30
Notre Dame at Michigan State: ESPN, 7 p.m. ET

The games I highlighted in bold are a few of the top early season games to watch (consider yourselves warned before my annual Season Preview hits your inboxes during the last week of October).

And this does not even count the first Big Ten games to be carried on longtime rights holder CBS Sports (Saturday, December 2 with Indiana visiting Michigan) and newcomers on the block in Fox Sports (later that same day as Ohio State plays at Wisconsin).