Pitino’s out. What’s next?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – Rick Pitino has officially been fired.
The decision was unanimous among the 28 members of the University of Louisville Athletic Association. They say he violated is contract through his alleged involvement in three controversies, including the basketball bribery scandal that broke in September.
So, what happens now?
People are wondering if the big Kentucky-Louisville rivalry will change with Pitino gone.
We talked with Kent Spencer, the former Sports Director at ABC 36 who now works for the Louisville affiliate, WHAS and asked him that exact question.
“I think it’s the end of an era for college basketball in general,” said Spencer.
Spencer says he knows the rivalry between UK and U of L will shift, saying a big part of it was just between the coaches.
“Forget Louisville and Kentucky,” said Spencer. “There was a Calipari-Pitino rivalry. That’s gone now so the dynamic of the rivalry will change, but the fan bases will still hate each other like the fire of a thousand suns.”
The firing of Pitino came after a Federal investigation into bribery of student-athletes was made public.
Pitino’s lawyer Stephen Pence released an over 50 page statement defending the coach’s actions, saying he was not directly involved in any scheme. Pence even included evidence Pitino passed a lie detector test.
“There’s not evidence to indicate that coach number 2 either knew or could have known about this scam that’s being run by these characters in this scheme,” said Pence.
Still the U of L Athletic Association’s Interim President Greg Postel says the University stands by its decision to fire Pitino.
Spencer says he thinks they made the right choice.
“The NCAA has clearly stated that a head coach now oversees the entire program and they’re responsible for the things that go on inside that program,” said Spencer. “Obviously Louisville is currently under the microscope with the NCAA because of a sex scandal that took place a few years ago, and now this comes up… just too many unknowns right now and I think for Louisville, they had to move on.”
The Athletic Association also voted to make Interim Head Coach David Padgett officially the Acting Head Coach.