Next 7 days critical for Pitino, 3 other suspended UofL employees
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- UPDATE 7:23 pm: University Sports Information Director Kenny Klein said in an email UofL had “parted ways” with suspended Assistant Coach Jordan Fair. The email said the university was exercising its option in Fair’s contract to terminate his employment without cause. Klein said fair would still be paid the next 30 days, consistent with the ‘without cause’ clause in the contract.
The next seven days, which include at least two University of Louisville board meetings, could end with permanent changes in four positions within the school's athletics department and men's basketball program.
On Monday, October 16, suspended head coach Rick Pitino has the opportunity to present evidence to the University of Louisville Athletics Association as to why he should not be fired. In an October 3 letter, Interim President Dr. Greg Postel told Pitino the ULAA was starting the process of firing Pitino for cause, citing, among other reasons, the basketball recruit sex scandal which led to the program's probation by the NCAA and the more recent pay-for-play scandal where an FBI investigation targeted the university.
"Your involvement in these recent scandals cannot be considered isolated events," Postel wrote. "Instead, they are illustrative of a pattern and practice of inappropriate behavior."
Postel said Pitino had the option to present his evidence in person, by a lawyer, by letter or by video.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Pitino's attorney Steve Pence said the coach's legal team had decided which method it would use to present the evidence but would not share specifics.
The October 16 date is also the final date Pitino would be paid, according to Postel's letter, as well as the end of the ten-day notice Pitino would have to be given before being terminated for cause. Although the letter from Postel was dated and mailed October 3, a university spokesperson said the school estimated Pitino and his team received the letter on October 6, hence the ten-day window ending on October 16.
The ULAA Board meeting would also be the first since the suspensions of Associate Head Coach Kenny Johnson and Assistant Coach Jordan Fair.
Contracts for both men allow the ULAA to fire them at any time if the association determined either man had breached the terms of his respective contract.
However, the university has not made public what, if any, role it feels Johnson or Fair may have had in the pay-for-play scheme. It should also be noted, the FBI has not named or charged Pitino Johnson or Fair in any of its records that are currently public.
Tom Jurich, the suspended Athletics Director also has a future that is in question in the coming week.
Postel wrote in a September 27 suspension letter "the question of your continued employment with the University of Louisville will be evaluated" at the next University of Louisville Board of Trustees meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18.
"Significant portions of what the athletic community at UofL is now relative to what it was 20 years ago, goes to the credit of Tom Jurich, no question," Governor Matt Bevin told WHAS 11 personality Terry Meiners on 840 WHAS radio Tuesday afternoon, "I do think, probably, his career there may be in balance, but I'm not convinced it's done."
Gov. Bevin said he was not in a position to direct the UofL Board of Trustees on the steps to take and would support the board's commissioner.
As for the federal investigation, Jim Gatto, an Adidas executive named in the criminal complaint, is scheduled to face a federal judge in New York on October 12. Gatto is accused of using his power at Adidas to funnel $100,000 from the apparel company to the family of a recruit in exchange for the recruit committing to play for UofL and sign with Adidas after entering the NBA, the complaint shows.
Gatto is scheduled to appear along with Lamont Evans, another named suspect in the complaint.
Both men are the final two of 10 named suspects in the case to face a judge.
According to federal law, once suspects named in a criminal complaint make their initial court appearance, prosecutors have 30 days to present evidence in the case to a grand jury to seek an indictment. The first three suspects, Christian Dawkins, Jonathan Augustine and Munish Sood, faced a judge on the day the criminal complaint. The next five suspects, Rashan Michel, Chuck Person, Emmanuel Richardson, Anthony Bland and Merl Code faced a judge October 10.
Although prosecutors are seeking indictments against the ten named suspects, indictments could be returned on additional suspects, a federal law enforcement official said.
When asked if the team was worried about the possibility of criminal charges resulting from a grand jury, Pence said if Pitino were engaged in criminal activity, the team would be concerned, but because he said Pitino had not, there was no worry.
Pence would not confirm if he or Pitino had been subpoenaed by the FBI, but has previously said the embattled coach would cooperate with the investigation.
i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @WHAS11DRose