'Coach Pitino has, in effect, been fired,' legal team says in vow of legal fight

Jurich and Pitino placed on leave from UofL

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) The unpaid and paid suspensions of University of Louisville Men's Basketball Head Coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich put a new cloud over the institution despite an otherwise sunny and humid day.

The suspensions were announced by Interim President Dr. Greg Postel and UofL Board of Trustees Chairman J. David Grissom on Wednesday to a packed room full of local and national reporters as well as students.

The news came as the school was already trying to clean itself from the stain of the 'Breaking Cardinal Rules' sex party scandal, but had its reputation soiled by the announcement on Tuesday of UofL's role in an ongoing federal investigation of a pay-for-play scheme between two unnamed basketball coaches, and school sponsor Adidas to entice 2017 recruit Brian Bowen to commit to the UofL program by paying his father $100,000.

"I would say I was more angry than embarrassed, obviously embarrassment is part of it," Postel said during the news conference.

Neither Pitino nor Jurich was named or implicated in either of 3 lengthy criminal complaints which were made public on Tuesday.

School officials that same day confirmed UofL was "University-6" as described by FBI agents. A description of "Player-10" and the decision to commit to UofL on June 3 only after the payment arrangements were agreed upon coincided with the highly publicized announcement by Bowen via Twitter. Also, the other freshman listed on the 2017-2018 team roster, which was referenced by the FBI, made commitments to UofL before June 3 or were walk-ons, an analysis of announcements and previous reports confirmed.

“I don’t know anything about that. ... I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea,” Bowen's mother, Carrie Malecke, told The Courier-Journal on Tuesday. The newspaper reported neither Malecke, nor Bowen's father, Brian Bowen, Sr. responded to voicemails left Wednesday.

Postel also announced a student on the team was removed from participating in NCAA activities, although he did not name Bowen.

In the 24 hours since the FBI investigation was made public, many fans and students have called for Pitino and Jurich to be fired.

While Postel indicated the university wanted to put as much distance between itself and Pitino and Jurich, he stressed the contractual obligations for the process of terminating either man's employment.

"This is a typical way that universities deal with a situation where there is an ongoing criminal investigation," Postel said, "The criminal investigation is not complete and individuals at this institution have not been formally charged."

The language in the respective contracts for Pitino and Jurich are vastly different because the men are employed by different entities: Pitino by the University of Louisville Association and Jurich by the University of Louisville.

Pitino has to be given a 10 day advanced written notice and the opportunity to present evidence before he's fired with cause, his contract reads.

Late Wednesday, Pitino, through his attorneys issued a statement, saying the school did not follow protocol in the disciplinary process and the case would be fought in court.

"It did not give him prior notice of the disciplinary action or an opportunity to be heard, as required by University policy and Coach Pitino's employment contract," an emailed statement read, "Coach Pitino has, in effect, been fired.  The matter will now follow its legal course."

Meanwhile, Jurich is given a 30 grace period to "cure to the reasonable satisfaction of the Association such violation" before he's terminated with cause. To be fired without cause, Jurich must be given a 90-day notice.

Still, the action of "cleaning house" by getting rid of both men was one several students said would demonstrate the type of leadership they wanted to see from Postel in this turbulent time.

"What do you say to those students," this reporter asked Postel.

"It should be obvious that that's what we're doing, we're taking an action sufficient to bring a room full of media to make a clear statement that we are not going to tolerate what we've learned about so my answer to them is we are doing everything in an appropriate way and will continue to do so as we learn more about this situation."

i-Team investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and dnrose@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter: @WHAS11DRose
 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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