Sunday, October 08, 2017

LOUISVILLE BASKETBALL: A Program That May Deserve More Than Just an NCAA "Death Penalty"

By John Ruberry

Last week I wrote this in my own blog about a scandal-​plagued state uni­ver­sity in Ken­tucky: “Is Louisville a col­lege with an ath­letic pro­gram? Or is it an ath­letic pro­gram that offers some col­lege classes?”

Late last month the shad­owy and cor­rupt realm of NCAA men’s col­lege bas­ket­ball, whose play­ers are nom­i­nally ama­teurs, was shat­tered by the rev­e­la­tion of an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion of pay­ments to recruits that allegedly comes from Adi­das. Ten peo­ple have been arrested, includ­ing four assis­tant coaches at Power Five col­lege hoops pro­grams. More arrests are expected.

But most of the media focus on the scan­dal is on the the Uni­ver­sity of Louisville, where no one so far faces charges.

Allegedly an AAU coach, Jonathan Brad Augus­tine, whose team is spon­sored by Adi­das, boasted to an under­cover FBI agent about the reach of Car­di­nals coach Rick Pitino – who is iden­ti­fied as “Coach-​2″ in court records – and how Pitino could get James “Jim” Gatto, the direc­tor of global sports mar­ket­ing for bas­ket­ball at Adi­das, to send $100,000 to the fam­ily of a Louisville recruit. That ath­lete, Brian Bowen, enrolled at Louisville. But now he’s been sus­pended from the team.

Oh, the first “A” in AAU stands for “amatuer.”

No one swings a big­ger d – k than [Coach-​2],” Augus­tine report­edly said after learn­ing that Gatto had dif­fi­culty in allegedly send­ing the $100K to Bowen’s fam­ily. He added that “all [Coach-​2] has to do is pick up the phone and call some­body [and say], ‘These are my guys – they’re tak­ing care of us.’”

Those remarks appear to have been lifted from a Sopra­nos script.

Pitino, and Louisville’s ath­letic direc­tor, Tom Jurich, were sus­pended by the uni­ver­sity the day after the scan­dal broke. Both of them are expected to be fired but in the mean­time they are the high­est paid per­sons in their posi­tions in col­lege sports.

But despite its suc­cess on the field – Louisville has a pretty good foot­ball team by the way–the ath­letic depart­ment loses money. Appar­ently Louisville man­ages its ath­letic depart­ment as poorly as the state of Ken­tucky runs its public-​worker pen­sion pro­grams.

Pitino is the only NCAA men’s bas­ket­ball coach to win national cham­pi­onships at two uni­ver­si­ties, Ken­tucky and Louisville. But four months ago the Car­di­nals pro­gram landed on NCAA pro­ba­tion because of a pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal involv­ing recruits, some of whom were under­age. Uh, where are the Louisville Police? The NCAA sus­pended Pitino for five games and Louisville will have to vacate some vic­to­ries – and pos­si­bly its 2013 NCAA title. Pitino claims igno­rance of the hir­ing of these “dancers” by the pro­gram. He also claimed to be sim­ply a put-​upon vic­tim in a extor­tion attempt by a woman, Karen Sypher, who alleged that Pitino raped her. The Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame coach, who is mar­ried, admit­ted to con­sen­sual sex with Sypher – she later went to prison. Pitino also admit­ted to pay­ing for her abor­tion.

Because Louisville’s men’s hoops pro­gram is already on pro­ba­tion, it’s likely that the Car­di­nals are eli­gi­ble for the NCAA “death penalty” if they are found to be a two-​time offender. The death penalty allows the NCAA to shut down a pro­gram for at least a year.

I say cut down the nets and turn off the lights for Louisville bas­ket­ball, prefer­ably for sev­eral years. The pos­si­bil­ity of the death penalty has hold­ers of the junk bonds financ­ing the sta­dium where the Car­di­nals play under­stand­ably a bit nervous.

At the very least Louisville needs a fresh start, but so far it’s off to a dread­ful one. Pitino’s interim replace­ment is one of his for­mer play­ers, David Pad­gett, who until two years ago was direc­tor of bas­ket­ball oper­a­tions at Louisville. Was Pad­gett a glo­ri­fied clerk? Or a figurehead?

Louisville has other prob­lems and one of them involves Adi­das. Of the money from the cur­rent mar­ket­ing con­tract the shoe giant has with the bas­ket­ball team, report­edly 98 per­cent of it goes to Pitino. Shouldn’t the gen­eral rev­enue fund of this taxpayer-​supported col­lege get at least a healthy cut?

Jurich, the money-​losing sus­pended ath­letic direc­tor, likely earned more money annu­ally than the bud­gets of four Louisville aca­d­e­mic depart­ments.

This scan­dal has legs longer than those of the late Manute Bol – and I’m pre­dict­ing not only will it spread to other col­leges and AAU pro­grams but to high school hoops as well, start­ing with the Chicago Pub­lic League. Lack of pay­ments prob­a­bly explains why the Chicago recruit­ing appa­ra­tus for years shuts out bas­ket­ball pro­grams such as DePaul and the one at my alma mater, the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Urbana-​Champaign. Both schools are nat­ural fits for Pub­lic League tal­ent and both of them used to recruit very suc­cess­fully in Chicago.

Do you have a bet­ter explanation?



Matthew W said...

Manute Bol is dead??

Anonymous said...

I guess once when Ricky survived the sex scandal back when, his hubris went unchecked and he didn't know when or how to stop.

Oh, BTW Louisville aren't the only ones doing it. But we already knew that.


Strelnikov said...

Come on, you know this is all race based, right? Designed to keep the black man down? Why else focus on Black America's nation sport?

Standby to hear an awful lot of this bullshyte, coming soon to ESPN, etc.