Another chance for Pitino? Yes, Vitale says.
Rick Pitino admitted to having sexual relations with the wife of his team’s equipment manager. Louisville brought him back.
A former staffer arranged for strippers and prostitutes to have sex with players and recruits in the team dorm. Pitino denied any knowledge of it and kept his job.
Only when the feds got involved did the ax finally fall: Louisville fired the Hall of Fame coach last month after an FBI investigation found an executive from Adidas and others conspired to steer recruits to Louisville via six-figure payments to their families, with Pitino allegedly being aware of the scheme.
ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, for one, thinks Pitino deserves yet another chance.
“I agree with Geno Auriemma, who said [he] would hire him in a minute,” Vitale told the New York Post. “The guy isn’t on probation anywhere he’s ever been. If there was someone looking to make a big hit, I think he would be a great hire. I really do . . . . He’s made mistakes, no doubt about it. I’ve made mistakes. I am sure you’ve made mistakes. I don’t know how hungry he would be. I know he misses this team because he had told me before any of this happened that this could be the best team he’s had.”
Auriemma, the Hall of Fame coach of the Connecticut women, told the “Pardon My Take” podcast that he would hire Pitino for his staff if he had an opening.
“Well, I mean, everybody’s got baggage,” he said. “You know, what are you going to do? You know, he did his time. He’s serving his sentence. He lost a great, great job. And you know what? So what. That’s a life sentence? I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
Pitino was fired Oct. 16, so Auriemma’s definition of time served is peculiar. In any case, more has come out about Pitino’s alleged role in the scheme since the U.S. Justice Department’s initial announcement, which maintained an AAU coach named Christian Dawkins called Pitino to ask him for help in securing a six-figure payment to the family of recruit Brian Bowen. A new indictment against former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, released this week, alleges Pitino not only was aware of the scheme but agreed to participate in it.
“Dawkins explained that while [Pitino] and the University of Louisville were recruiting [Bowen], Dawkins asked [Pitino] to call James Gatto to request that [Adidas] provide the money requested by the family of [Bowen], which [Pitino] agreed to do,” the indictment reads.
Pitino’s attorney told ESPN that his client denied having any knowledge of the scheme.