Rick Pitino continues to find himself at the center of an FBI investigation into NCAA basketball. The official report lists him as “Coach-2,” and claims that he was fully aware of the fact that touted recruits were receiving cash payments illegally.
On Thursday, Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, refuted those claims.
In a prepared statement, Pence called the allegations “false, misleading, and defamatory.”
The lawyer claims Pitino was completely unaware of any inappropriate dealings, and cites a lack of evidence to the contrary.
“Coach Pitino was not aware of, and did not participate in, any payment to any recruits or their families. The recent indictment returned in New York does not allege that Coach Pitino was aware of, nor that he participated in, any payment to any recruits or their families. Reports to the contrary are false, misleading and defamatory,” Pence said in the statement.
“The only mention of Coach Pitino in the indictment is a single statement by defendant Dawkins, who boasted that he had communicated with Coach Pitino about the scheme concocted by him and his co-conspirators. Dawkins made a similar boast about communications with a coach at the University of Miami. But these statements by Dawkins are wholly uncorroborated, inconsistent with other proof and, more importantly, false.”
Claims made by defendant Christian Dawkins say that he asked Pitino to get in touch with adidas representative James Gatto to provide money requested by the family of a prized recruit.
A similar claim was made about the University of Miami and coach Jim Larranaga, identified as “Coach-3” in the report.
Regardless of whether Pitino was aware of the dealings or not may be besides the point. Not only his he battling these allegations, but he is facing an uphill climb against his own reputation. Pitino will likely never coach in the NCAA again, and the outcome of the investigation is unlikely to change. He met with the FBI when the investigation was first made public, and has publicly maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal. Louisville chose to fire him shortly after the news broke, appearing unwilling to stick by his side through yet another embarrassing violation scandal.