The University of Louisville has placed head basketball coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave, the school announced Tuesday in a news conference.
Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, had said amid earlier reports that Pitino had been fired by saying that the coach was put on administrative leave but was “effectively fired,” per Phillip M. Bailey of The Courier-Journal.
The leave comes in the wake of Louisville’s alleged involvement in a corruption scandal that has rocked the NCAA and has affected multiple other schools.
After an FBI investigation, a “pay-for-play” scheme was discovered where an Adidas representative planned to pay a top national recruit $100,000 to play college basketball at Louisville and then sign with Adidas when he turned pro. The alleged player, Brian Bowen, will be held out of all NCAA activities:
Louisville's Brian Bowen will be held out of all NCAA activities, per Greg Postel. Was called "a Louisville player".
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 27, 2017
Pitino denied the allegations.
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” the Hall of Fame coach said in a statement released by his lawyer, Steve Pence, according to Jeff Greer of The Indy Star. “If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
It was also reported by Kent Taylor of WAVE-TV and others that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has been fired, but a school spokesman refuted the report by stating that Jurich still had his job, according to Bailey. Louisville announced at the news conference that he was placed on paid administrative leave.
Both leaves would be reevaluated by the school down the road, according to university officials. Louisville interim president Greg Postel said he hopes to name an interim coach and AD within the next 48 hours.
Pitino originally became coach of the Cardinals in 2001-02. He led the school to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and one national championship, which Louisville captured during the 2012-13 campaign.
He went 416-143 over 16 years with the program.
Last season, the Cardinals went 25-9 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.