In October, the University of Louisville’s athletics board voted unanimously to fire basketball coach Rick Pitino amid a bribery scandal within his program. Well six weeks later, it seems as if Pitino is not going quietly.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Pitino has sued the school in federal court for about $37 million, claiming a breach of contract. Pitino reportedly claims he played no role in the illicit payments that brought top recruit Brian Bowen to Louisville.
The lawsuit states that the board’s actions violated his employment contract in two ways — first, during his suspension in September and again when he was fired in October.
In September, Pitino was “effectively fired” without proper notice, according to the lawsuit. The coach was placed on unpaid leave, locked out of his office and had access to his university email blocked.
The lawsuit also alleges the university had no justification to fire Pitino “for cause” in October and failed to fix the breach within 30 days despite being notified of the breach by the coach.
This is the second lawsuit Pitino has filed since his firing six weeks ago. He also sued Adidas, claiming the shoe company tarnished his reputation and inflicted emotional damage upon him. Adidas has asked that the court dismiss that suit, claiming in a court filing that the coach was aware and supportive of the scheme to bribe players.
Pitino presumably won’t walk away with the full $37 million he’s seeking from Louisville, but it’s easy to imagine the school feeling a desire to settle as quickly as possible. The longer Pitino’s lawsuit drags on, the longer it will take Louisville to escape the cloud of the bribery scandal the FBI’s resulting investigation. Pitino has already gone down, and now he’s trying to take his former employer down with him.