Geno Auriemma Says He'd Hire Rick Pitino Despite Louisville Firing, FBI Scandal

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 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

University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma said he'd hire former University of Louisville men's coach Rick Pitino despite his dismissal from the Cardinals' program amid an FBI investigation into alleged widespread corruption in college basketball. 

On Thursday, ESPN.com passed along comments Auriemma made about the situation during an appearance on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

"If I had a job opening? Yes," he said about potentially hiring Pitino. "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."

ABC News reported Sept. 28 that Pitino had been identified as "Coach-2" in federal documents related to the FBI probe. Former ASM Sports agent Christian Dawkins told a cooperating witness he helped funnel $100,000 to the family of prized recruit Brian Bowen "at the request" of the Louisville coach.

In addition, court records show Adidas executive Jim Gatto spoke with Pitino "multiple times" in the days before Bowen announced his intention to play for the Cardinals, per ABC News.

"On or about June 3, 2017, [Bowen] officially committed to [Louisville] in return for the commitment by Gatto and [Adidas] to pay $100,000 for his family," the FBI complaint read.

Pitino was officially fired Oct. 16 after previously being placed on administrative leave.

The 65-year-old two-time NCAA championship-winning coach told ESPN's Jay Bilas a few days later he had "no knowledge" of the reported payment to Bowen's family. He also claimed a lie detector test was performed and he passed.

"I was asked two questions," Pitino said. "And I said, 'I want you to ask me if any other recruits in my tenure were ever given anything.' And he [the polygraph examiner] said, 'That's not what we're here for. We're here for: Did you have any knowledge of the Bowen family getting any money? Did you have any knowledge of an Adidas transaction?' I answered 'absolutely not' on both questions and passed the lie detector test. So I had no knowledge of any of this."

Pitino was previously a head coach at Hawaii (interim), Boston University, Providence and Kentucky at the collegiate level as well as with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the NBA. He also spent time as an assistant with Hawaii, Syracuse and the Knicks.

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