LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP/WKYT) - Louisville's Athletics Association voted unanimously on Monday to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino in the wake of a national federal investigation of the sport.
Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 27 by interim university President Greg Postel after the school acknowledged involvement in the federal probe of alleged bribery of recruits. The association - a separate body that oversees Louisville's sports programs and comprised of trustees, faculty, students, and administrators - on Oct. 2 authorized Postel to begin the process of firing the Hall of Fame coach for cause after 16 seasons following the program's second scandal in the past two years.
Pitino is not named in the federal complaint and has said he was unaware of any payment to a recruit.
On Monday morning, the board went into closed session almost immediately. They approved a resolution naming Assistant coach David Padgett as Pitino's interim replacement. They granted Padgett a one-year contract with a base salary of $400,000. The board also approved the employment of Vince Tyra as acting athletics director.
Around 11 am, Rick Pitino's attorney Steve Pence entered the boardroom. He came out around 12:40 and said that as of now, Pitino had not been fired. When asked if Pitino is "Coach 2" mentioned in a federal affidavit, Pence didn't confirm or deny but did say there's no proof "Coach 2" knew of any wrongdoing.
During his presentation, Pence supplied a 50-page submission to the board in Pitino's defense. In it was a polygraph examination report. The examiner asked Pitino if he participated in paying Bryan Bowen's family and if he knew before September 26 that Bowen's family had been paid. Pitino answered 'no' to both questions. The examiner concluded that Pitino showed no signs of deception.
The report also included text messages between Rick Pitino and Jim Gatto who worked for Adidas. It also included text messages between Pitino and Christian Dawkins.
Pence said, "The right thing is to make the determination that the coach not only did not know but could not have known about this scheme that was going on. And the right thing to do is to bring the coach back."
The 28-member board decided on Monday afternoon to fire Rick Pitino.
Interim President Greg Postel acknowledged that Pitino might sue the board for breach of contract. Postel said that nothing in the presentation from Pitino's attorney was enough to sway any member of the ULAA board to support keeping the coach.