Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino had an eventful 2015, though not in a lot of good ways. To start the new year, the Hall of Famer used a press conference to air out a lot of his grievances Friday.
According to Marc Lancaster of Sporting News, Pitino stated definitively that he "did not" flip off Kentucky Wildcats fans following a Dec. 26 loss at Rupp Arena.
"It wasn't fans, per se," Pitino said. "I was in the tunnel and…it's really not important."
Pitino also addressed why he didn't speak at the postgame press conference.
"It's a very emotional game to me," Pitino said. "When we go into a press conference in a neighborhood like that, I don't want to hear about the scandal, OK? I don't want to hear about that. That has bothered me every single night."
In October, John Barr and Jeff Goodman of ESPN's Outside the Lines reported former graduate assistant coach Andre McGee paid for strippers to attend parties for players and potential recruits at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014.
The report came after self-described former escort Katina Powell published a book detailing "nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall," according to Goodman and Barr.
Pitino followed his comments about the game against Kentucky with this statement about the situation regarding McGee and Powell:
I think we have been wronged. We have been wronged. Now, did one person [McGee] do some scurrilous things? I believe so. With what I know now, I believe so. The only thing I don't know is, I don't know why he did it. I just for the life of me can't figure out — he knew better, he was taught better, by his parents and by me.
Lancaster also noted Pitino continually said he was "pissed off" that the NCAA and ESPN have given Powell a forum to tell her story "if there are crimes being committed" by Powell.
This has been a strange and unusual season for Pitino and everyone associated with the Louisville basketball program. It's not affecting the on-court product, though, as the Cardinals are 11-2 and rank 18th in the Associated Press Top 25.
Pitino seems to be taking a more proactive approach to tackling the situation. He may not be going about it in the most logical way, but his comments paint the picture of a man who cares deeply about his legacy and program.