Rick Pitino out as Louisville basketball coach amid federal probe

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Rick Pitino out as Louisville head coach: Report

U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian (R-NV) weighs in on reports that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and the school's athletic director Tom Jurich have been fired.

The University of Louisville placed legendary head basketball coach Rick Pitino on an immediate unpaid administrative leave on Wednesday, one day after the school was named in court documents related to a federal corruption probe.

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Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich was placed on paid leave. Gregory Postel, the university’s interim president, said school officials will review the long-term employment status of both Pitino and Jurich at a later date, adding that an interim head coach will likely be named within the next 48 hours.

“It is vital for this university to strictly adhere to NCAA rules and, of course, federal law. Doing nothing would be a tacit endorsement of unethical and criminal behavior,” Postel said at a press conference.

An unnamed Louisville student-athlete is also being indefinitely withheld from NCAA activities, including practices and games. While it’s unclear how the leave will impact Pitino’s contract, Postel said the university’s “goal in all processes is to honor the contracts of our employees and to honor the university’s HR policies.”

“While this may be a dark day for the University of Louisville, better days are ahead,” Postel said.

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The FBI arrested 10 people this week, including four NCAA assistant basketball coaches, for alleged participation in two schemes to influence top high school recruits. The coaches purportedly accepted bribes to push the recruits toward certain financial advisors and managers.

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Separately, an Adidas executive allegedly funneled six-figure payments to the families of top basketball recruits in exchange for their commitment to Adidas-sponsored colleges. In one instance, a five-star recruit who purportedly received $100,000 later committed to play at Louisville.

"These allegations come as a complete shock to me," Pitino said in a statement after the arrests went public. "If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney's Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable."

Louisville’s basketball program is already serving a four-year probation stint for its involvement in a sex scandal. Pitino received a five-game suspension for that incident, which is currently under appeal.

Pitino was one of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches, with $5.093 million base salary and $7.5 million bonus due in 2017. Louisville signed Pitino to a 10-year, $50.93 million extension in 2015. 

This story has been updated.

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