Louisville Athletics Association Contends Pitino Must Pay Forfeited Funds
On December 13, 2017, the University of Louisville Athletics Association stated that Rick Pitino, the former men’s basketball head coach, should cover the penalties issued by the NCAA against the school. The University of Louisville Athletics Association filed counterclaims against Pitino in his federal suit over his termination. The university received penalties from the NCAA panel because of allegations that a former operations director used strippers and escorts to attract potential players. However, once the FBI investigation was complete, there were only charges against an Adidas marketing executive, several coaches at different universities, and other individuals. Pitino was originally suspended in September, and then fired after the university admitted its involvement with the FBI. Pitino also lost his Adidas endorsement agreement.
Pitino brought his breach of contract suit against the University of Louisville Athletics Association on November 30. In his suit he alleged that the university wrongfully fired him without proof he acted improperly and without proper written notice for actions that occurred during a prior contract. Pitino also stated that at the time of the penalties the university interim president, Greg Postel, had his back, and that he could not have known about the illegal activities, which should prevent the penalties from being used to fire him now. Further, Pitino claimed the prosecutor’s bribery case made no substantive allegations against him and that rule violations by his staff did not prove lack of supervision. In response to the University of Louisville Athletics Association’s argument that he failed to notify them that an agent was on campus, Pitino claimed both there was no reporting requirement and the alleged agent was not an actual agent. In his suit, Pitino requested the court to award him about $4.3 million per year until June 2026 per his contract, or the $1.5 million per year he would have received under the Adidas endorsement agreement. Pitino also filed a suit against Adidas America on October 17 for severe emotional distress caused by the alleged bribery scheme.
In response to Pitino’s suit, the University of Louisville Athletics Association counterclaimed that Pitino breached his employment contract by failing to monitor his staff on several occasions. This failure to supervise is alleged to have led to the NCAA infractions panel to order the school to give up funds from conference revenue sharing programs for attending the 2012-2015 NCAA men’s basketball championship tournaments. The association also claimed that Pitino’s lack of supervision led to the FBI investigation. Specifically, the association claimed, “[t]he FBI’s criminal investigation of certain members of the University’s men’s basketball program, which was announced on the heels of Mr. Pitino’s Level 1 violation for failure to monitor staff, evidences an ongoing failure to adequately monitor and supervise his assistant coaches as required by the material terms of his contract.” The association also alleged Pitino was negligent and negatively impacted business relationships. Both the association and Pitino requested pre- and post-judgment interest in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs.