Dribbling around the allegations connecting him to a bribery scandal, former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach, Rick Pitino, fought back against Adidas’ arguments to toss his claim alleging emotional distress. Adidas filed a motion at the end of November to either dismiss the case for failure to state a claim or stay it in favor of mandatory arbitration because of a provision in a contract between Pitino and Adidas. Pitino, in response, argued the product endorsement contract with Adidas does not apply to his unrelated tort of outrage claim.
Pitino was linked to a scheme in which Adidas and others would pay student athletes to commit to certain Adidas-sponsored schools and hire certain agents when they went pro. Following the September charges, the University of Louisville suspended and then fired him.
Adidas’ motion to dismiss the case argued that Pitino’s contract required disputes to be settled by arbitration, not litigation; that the contract specified Oregon, not the Western District of Kentucky, as the forum for litigation; that Pitino is ineligible to recover damages from Adidas’ conduct because he is a third-party bystander; and that Adidas’ conduct was not sufficiently outrageous to be actionable. Adidas also argued that evidence suggests Pitino was “both aware and supported the scheme” to pay players. Pitino countered that he “had no part – active, passive, or through willful ignorance – in the Adidas conspiracy.”
Pitino contended that his none of the elements of his tort claim requires reference to the endorsement agreement at the heart of a breach of contract dispute, so the two cases should not be joined in arbitration. He emphasized that he would have brought the tort claim even if he and Adidas had no contract and even if the University of Louisville had not fired him. He also defended the validity of his tort claim, pointing out the allegations against him “garnered front page headlines” and alleging that Adidas’ actions caused him “profound embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional injury.”