Posted on: July 26, 2010 9:12 am
Edited on: July 26, 2010 9:22 am
LAS VEGAS -- My Sunday flight home was canceled, which means I'll be traveling home today ... or at least trying to travel home today. Wish me luck. Meantime, the trial of Karen Cunagin Sypher gets underway this morning. Case you forgot, she's the woman charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from Louisville coach Rick Pitino after a sordid affair that began at a table in an Italian restaurant.
Pitino is expected to testify Tuesday.
It's unclear whether Sypher will take the stand in her own defense.
My guess is that she won't considering cross-examination would be a nightmare for a woman who A) nailed Pitino on a table in a restaurant, B) had an abortion, C) married Pitino's friend, and D) allegedly performed sexual favors for another man who later helped her try to extort money from Pitino. Either way, this trial should be a blast. I'll be monitoring it closely (hopefully via Wi-Fi while flying home this afternoon).
Posted on: October 12, 2009 6:09 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2009 6:12 pm
There is still no indication that Louisville's Jerry Smith and Terrence Jennings will be disciplined in a public and meaningful way for getting arrested this weekend, which is further evidence that the whole Karen Sypher Saga has put Rick Pitino in a tough spot.
Seriously, what can he do?
If he doesn't suspend Smith and Jennings, Pitino is open to criticism for not disciplining players.
But if he does suspend Smith and Jennings, Pitino is open to criticism for being, well, a hypocrite.
It's the classic no-win situation, and that's why acting as though the admitted affair with Sypher (and the abortion that followed it) wouldn't affect Pitino's ability to coach was short-sighted. My thought was always that, going forward, Pitino would have a hard time telling players how to act away from the gym because they'd unquestionably think of how he acted away from the gym, and if Pitino wasn't disciplined for conduct unbecoming of a Louisville Cardinal then how could he discipline players for conduct unbecoming of a Louisville Cardinal?
It's a tricky situation, obviously.
And that's why I expect Smith and Jennings to start the season as planned, because to suspend them would almost certainly cause a rift Louisville doesn't need. By handling this internally, Pitino can express his disappointment with Smith and Jennings while simultaneously playing the but-I've-got-your-back/we're-all-in-this-circus-together card. And at this point that's probably Pitino's best move, the lesser of two bads, sad as that might seem.
Posted on: October 11, 2009 8:13 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2009 8:16 pm
The following headlines can be found on our college basketball page right now:
And this really has been a wild offseason for the Louisville program, hasn't it?
Posted on: September 8, 2009 11:27 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2009 11:29 pm
Rick Pitino said the drama surrounding his personal life wouldn't affect recruiting.
He took a step toward proving it Tuesday by gaining a commitment from Zach Price -- a 6-foot-9 center Scout.com ranks as the 38th-best prospect in the Class of 2011. Price is the first recruit to commit to Louisville since Pitino publicly apologized for an affair that led to him giving money Karen Cunagin Sypher said she used to fund an abortion.
Price visited Louisville this past weekend.
He called Pitino and committed Tuesday night.
"I basically had a great feel about their school in June when I first visited and my second visit sealed the deal," Price told Scout.com. "What sealed the deal was we were taking pictures and Coach Pitino said, 'Come stand next to me because I'm going to be your coach.' ... I knew he was the coach for me."
Louisville now has three Class of 2011 prospects committed.
The others are Michael Chandler and Ryan Taylor.
Chandler is rated 13th in the Class of 2011.
Taylor is not ranked in the Top 100.
Posted on: August 12, 2009 11:24 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2009 11:25 pm
Tom Jurich is behind Rick Pitino. As is Dr. James Ramsey. So it appears Rick Pitino will survive this mess that would make more sense if it was a story lifted from "Days of our Lives," and I suppose the Hall of Fame coach simply had more equity built up over his distinguished career than Larry Eustachy and Mike Price, both of whom were removed from good jobs for less.
"Rick Pitino is the University of Louisville's basketball coach," Ramsey said via a statement released shortly after Pitino publicly apologized to his family, the university and its fans. "He has been a role model for countless young people and a positive influence on this community. Regardless of the truth or falsehood of specific actions that have been attributed to the coach, he's clearly made errors in judgment that have come under intense public scrutiny. We can't ignore these errors in judgment, and they have saddened and disappointed me. As we try to teach our students, when you make a mistake, you admit it and right it as best you can. Coach has done that today."
Translation: I'm pissed off, but I'm keeping my coach.
(Or at least that's the way I read it.)
Still, this is going to affect Pitino going forward.
There's no denying that.
I'd like to tell you his personal life won't come up in recruiting, but that would be a lie, because it will. Even if a prospect doesn't care, a prospect's family might. And even if a prospect's family doesn't care, opposing coaches will almost certainly try to make them care by floating theories about how Pitino's life is spiraling out of control, about how it'll lead to an early retirement, about how signing with Louisville isn't as likely to have you playing for Pitino as it is to have you playing for new assistant Ralph Willard.
In the business, it's called negative recruiting .
And it works.
So while Pitino spoke about the incident Wednesday and explained how telling the truth will help make it a part of his past, the reality is that this is very much going to be a part of his future, too. How much so remains to be determined. But when John Calipari moved down the street in April, Pitino's job immediately became more difficult, and I'm inclined to believe this latest episode is only going to make things worse.
Posted on: August 12, 2009 3:32 pm
So I was on a radio station in Iowa talking about the Rick Pitino situation, basically stating how there's no defense for the Louisville coach's behavior while also explaining that I didn't believe his job was at risk. But then the hosts mentioned Larry Eustachy, and I started talking about the parallels between the cases, and it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps this is more serious than I initially thought.
Because coaches have been removed for less, that's why.
Eustachy is the most obvious example.
Remember, Eustachy was pushed out of Iowa State after photographs of him partying with young women and drinking cheap beer surfaced. It was a bad deal, no question. But was it worse than a married man nailing a stranger on a table in a restaurant, and then paying for a subsequent abortion?
It doesn't sound worse, does it?
And that's really my point.
When you take a step back -- and consider Louisville president James Ramsey has been less than supportive in his public comments -- it doesn't seem like a given that Pitino's career will continue uninterrupted, which is not to say I would suspend or fire him. Just so we're clear, I would not. If I was in charge at Louisville, I'd keep Rick Pitino as my head coach, and all indications are that he will indeed continue as Louisville's head coach. But it took a couple of radio guys in Iowa to remind me that coaches (specifically Eustachy) have been removed for much less, and now I'm not so sure Pitino will coast through this soap opera the way I initially anticipated.
Could this really be the beginning of the end for Rick Pitino?
No, I don't think so.
But it's at least a reasonable question to ponder, and I wouldn't have said that last night.
Posted on: August 11, 2009 10:45 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2009 11:02 pm
To recap ...
Rick Pitino had sex with a woman at a restaurant.
Then she got pregnant.
Then he paid for her to have an abortion.
Then she married one of his friends.
Then she tried to extort money from Pitino.
Then she accused him of rape.
And, man, is this a bizarre story or what?
I'm not sure whether the lesson is to be faithful to your wife or fearful of crazy women, but there's a lesson in there somewhere, I'm certain. And what's up with this Tim Sypher character? How can you marry a woman six months after she had an abortion due to your boss getting her pregnant? Isn't that a bit weird? Unless, of course, he was under orders from Pitino, who might've figured the best way to keep this woman quiet was to have his friend marry her.
You know, keep your friends close and affairs closer.
(Or something like that.)
I guess I could be serious about all this, but, really, what's the point? It's such a strange situation on a lot of different levels, and the only people I can muster any sympathy for are Pitino's wife, Joanne, and his children -- particularly Richard Pitino, who was on the Louisville staff until this offseason and thus in the middle of a circus where he almost certainly found himself torn between being loyal to his boss and angry at his father.
She's obviously loony .
I don't get him at all.
He's a helluva basketball coach, but he got himself into a mess that's impossible to defend.
I'm just sitting here shaking my head, mezmerized by the soap opera.
(PS: I wrote a column when this all started, and my central point was that no matter how the story ended, it wouldn't end well for anybody. Considering Pitino has been forced to admit to an affair and an abortion, and that Sypher is facing criminal charges, I think I was right in my assumption. Either way, you can read that column at this link , if you want.)
Posted on: June 10, 2009 4:02 pm
Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard is leaving his current job to become an assistant at Louisville.
"This is obviously one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my career, but after much thought and examination I think it is best for the program going forward and for me personally," Willard said in a released statement. "I'm tremendously proud of the student-athletes I have had the privilege to coach here, all they have accomplished and the way they have represented themselves and the school."
Willard will fill the opening at Louisville left by Richard Pitino.
He is now an assistant at Florida.
This development leaves Holy Cross and USC both looking for new head coaches.