On Tuesday, the FBI arrested four college basketball assistant coaches after they allegedly accepted bribes to funnel players toward certain agents, advisers and shoe companies. Amid the FBI’s complaint against the four coaches and six others involved in the scheme was a thinly veiled reference to the University of Louisville, which stands accused of paying a high school player $100,000 to commit to its basketball program.
This is what allegedly went on that the school that appears to be Louisville. 100k funneled to a recruit in exchange for commitment. pic.twitter.com/gyzkKaTcfM
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) September 26, 2017
After Louisville confirmed it was the school mentioned in the complaint, basketball coach Rick Pitino released a statement, and… what do you know, he had no idea any of this was going on!
“These allegations come as a complete shock to me,” Pitino said. “Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
Statement from Rick Pitino through attorney Steve Pence. pic.twitter.com/HcVzmnJwUc
— Jason Riley (@JasonRileyWDRB) September 26, 2017
If Pitino denying knowledge of a scandal within his own program sounds familiar to you, it’s because two years ago he similarly denied knowledge that staffers were supplying high schoolers with prostitutes on their recruiting visits. Then, as now, Pitino defended himself by asserting that he knew nothing of the day-to-day operations of the program he was supposed to be running. That means he was either an absent leader with no control over those under him or he was liar. It’s hard to say which is worse.
Now once again he’s pleading ignorance, and he looks bad whether or not we believe him. It’s a coach’s job to know what is happening in his program, and he is guilty of complicity or negligence. One or the other, if not both.
Unlike with the escort mess, this latest “scandal” is hardly all that shocking or outrageous. We all know that college sports programs (or their boosters) pay recruits under the table, and now we know it a little more concretely. In fact, the only person who seems stunned by these revelations is… Rick Pitino.