Rick Pitino, Tom Jurich Put on Leave by Louisville Amid FBI Investigation

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals  reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the second half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The University of Louisville placed head basketball coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave and athletic director Tom Jurich on paid leave Wednesday following an FBI investigation into a wide-ranging college basketball corruption scandal.

Louisville interim president Greg Postel announced the decision at a press conference after Steve Pence, Pitino's attorney, told Phillip M. Bailey of the Courier-Journal of the move, noting Pitino is "effectively fired."

Mark Schlabach of ESPN first reported the Cardinals' decision to let Pitino and Jurich go. Evan Daniels of Scout.com later reported David Padgett is in charge of the program "for the time being."

Pitino's lawyer's released a statement, via Eric Crawford of WDRB:

Jurich also provided a statement on the move, via Jason Riley of WDRB:

On Tuesday, Shachar Peled of CNN reported four college assistant coaches—Chuck Person (Auburn), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Tony Bland (USC) and Emanuel Richardson (Arizona)—were among 10 people arrested by the FBI on "complaints that allege fraud and corruption."

"All of those charged today contributed to a pay-to-play culture that has no business in college basketball," Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York division, said.

Meanwhile, Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com noted Louisville was identified as "University-6" listed within investigation documents, which claim there was an agreement between an unnamed Cardinals staffer, Adidas official James Gatto and others to pay $100,000 to a committed recruit's family.

Postel said one athlete was notified he is being held out of NCAA activities after the investigation.

"These allegations come as a complete shock to me," Pitino said in a statement. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorneys 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. But the FBI and the United States Department of Justice have come to clean up the sport and the mess made by Louisville and other programs."

The 65-year-old New York City native took over the Louisville program in 2001. He led the Cardinals to a 416-143 record across 16 seasons, highlighted by an NCAA tournament title in 2013.

Pitino also dealt with multiple scandals during his tenure.

In 2009, he detailed an extortion plot following a 2003 encounter with Karen Cunagin Sypher during which they engaged in brief consensual sex. He confirmed he gave her $3,000 for "counseling and medical needs" but was later told the money was used for an abortion. He said the woman demanded "millions" to remain quiet about the situation six years later, which led to her seven-year prison sentence.

In June, Pitino received a five-game suspension from the NCAA for a "failure to monitor" as part of the program's escort scandal, which came to light in a 2015 book by Katina Powell. He was set to sit out the first five conference games of the 2017-18 season, pending appeal.

Pitino, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, previously served as head coach at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky and on an interim basis at Hawaii. He also spent time as the head coach of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Pitino had "probed NBA teams on a return as a head coach in recent years," but noted there has been no interest and that it's "unlikely to change."

Louisville hired Jurich in October 1997. The former football kicker, who the Pittsburgh Steelers selected in the 1978 NFL draft, had filled the role of athletic director at both Northern Arizona and Colorado State before joining the Cardinals.

He oversaw the school's move through several conferences across the past two decades, most recently joining the ACC in 2014.

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