Posted on: September 8, 2009 11:27 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2009 11:29 pm

Pitino gets first elite recruit since scandal

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.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 12, 2009 11:24 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2009 11:25 pm

Pitino affair will be a part of his future, too

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

Worth noting: Coaches have been fired for less

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

This sure is a crazy story

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.

Karen Sypher?

She's obviously loony .

Tim Sypher?

I don't get him at all.

Rick Pitino?

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

Willard to join Pitino's staff at Louisville

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.
Posted on: May 8, 2009 10:20 am
Edited on: May 8, 2009 10:35 am

Lots of denials to the Pitino report

There have been statements from both Louisville and Sacramento that suggest Rick Pitino is not a candidate for the Kings job, as reported late Thursday by Yahoo! Sports. But it's worth noting that Adrian Wojnarowski authored that story, and he's well connected with a solid track record, meaning you can trust this Pitino-to-the-Kings possibility is something he was told on authority (even if it's untrue) as opposed to something he just invented (as some Louisville fans have angrily suggested) to hurt the Cardinals' program.

In a related note, there was a strong rumor in basketball circles early Thursday indicating Pitino might resign from Louisville by the weekend. But two sources close to Pitino shot that rumor down instantly, with one going as far as to tell CBSSports.com by text message that "there's no way" that would happen. On Friday morning, another source discounted the idea that Pitino would leave for the Kings, at which point I was reminded of a story I was told last month, not long after John Calipari was hired at Kentucky. At the time, there was speculation that Pitino might listen to a ridiculous offer from Memphis or that he could accept the Arizona job. But a source close to Pitino explained in the simplest terms possible that Pitino wouldn't make either move given the circumstances because he'd "never follow Calipari" at Memphis and hesitate to leave for any other job right now because he wouldn't want it to look like he was "running from Calipari."

(Rest assured, that's the way Calipari would interpret it. And he'd love it.)

So if you believe that theory, that's at least one reason why Pitino will likely remain at Louisville for the time being.

A move would be perceived by some (particularly in the state of Kentucky) as a surrender to Calipari.

And Pitino might rather rebuild at Louisville than deal with that perception.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 22, 2009 9:55 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2009 10:33 pm

Class of 2010 standout headed to Europe

Jeremy Tyler isn't just skipping college.

He's skipping his senior year of high school, too.

“This is what I want to do,” Tyler, a Class of 2010 star, told the New York Times on Wednesday while announcing his intention to play professionally in Europe next season. “It will help me get better and grow up.”

Tyler, 17, was committed to play at Louisville in 2010-2011. But now the 6-11 center is set to spend the next two years in Europe (Spain, perhaps) developing and earning an expected six-figure salary before entering the NBA Draft in 2011, which seems to be the first year Tyler would be eligible to be selected because of the NBA's controversial age-limit rule. Assuming he follows through on his announcement, Tyler will become the first American-born player to leave high school early to play professionally overseas. He'll be the second high-profile prospect to choose Europe in as many years -- joining Arizona signee Brandon Jennings, who just completed a season in Italy in which he reportedly made $1.2 million thanks to a basketball contract and endorsement deal.

Scout.com rates Tyler as the seventh-best prospect in the Class of 2010.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 19, 2009 11:43 am
Edited on: April 19, 2009 11:58 am

Pitino case centers around wife of UofL employee

The person doing the alleged extorting in the Rick Pitino case is Karen Sypher, multiple sources have confirmed.

She is the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher.

They have five children.

Tim has worked for Pitino at Louisville for seven years, according to an official bio. He was also a personal assistant to Pitino for more than three years with the Boston Celtics, meaning he's worked with Pitino in some form for a decade. By pure coincidence, Daniel Acker of Bloomberg News took a picture of a Karen Sypher sources have said is the Karen Sypher last year at The Kentucky Derby.

Click this link to see it.

(She really does look like she's up to something, doesn't she?)

Records show Tim and Karen Sypher are in the process of getting a divorce.

Tim Sypher issued a statement Sunday morning.

"I am devastated by the bizarre allegations that my estranged wife is making against both Coach Pitino and myself," he said. "At this point, my primary concern is for my young daughter and four stepsons, both to the impact of their mother's actions on them, as well as the impact on Coach's family and the University. I love my children, and want to protect them. At the same time, I intend to defend the allegations vigorously and will have no additional comment at this time."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com