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Rick Pitino’s scandal-ridden tenure at Louisville ended ignominiously after his involvement in a pay-for-play scheme in which he allegedly helped funnel money to five-star recruit Brian Bowen, according to an FBI investigation. The ensuing aftershock resulted in his termination as the Cardinals head coach.
Pitino’s rotting coaching career appeared DOA after Louisville was forced to vacate its 2013 National Championship as well as the 2012 Final Four due to the program’s malfeasance in neglecting director of basketball operations Andre McGee’s illicit practice of paying women to entertain recruits with stripteases and sexual acts.
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As recently as Feb. 25, Pitino, 65, seemed resigned to his fate as a college basketball pariah. However, if what Pitino told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman can be taken at face value, he is determined to slither back into the collegiate ranks after hiring New York-based agent Jordan Bazant.
“The level doesn’t matter to me,” the former Louisville coach said on Friday. “I just need it to be someone who believes in me.”
It may seem like that ship may has sailed for a 65-year-old with three decades of baggage. Pitino isn’t a role model, nor is he a despicable human being for trying to get money in players’ pockets, but he has run afoul of the NCAA far too often. There remains a real possibility that Pitino will eventually be slapped with a multi-year show-cause penalty. Conversely, that never stopped Auburn from eagerly snatching up Bruce Pearl. If Pitino is looking to ply his trade, he should consider walking back through that NBA door.
An admittedly bitter Pitino also sprayed contemptuous shots at University of Louisville leaders, who stuck by him through some embarrassing testimony in a 2010 extortion trial and after his failed oversight of McGee.
“Every night I go to bed, I’m bitter at the U.S. attorney’s office and at the ‘board of traitors’ at Louisville,” Pitino said. “I’m not bitter at the school, but at the board of traitors.”
If Pitino wants to coach at the college level again, he’s only hurting himself by deflecting responsibility. He’d be better served showing humility instead of a persecution complex.
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