Louisville attorneys: Rick Pitino thought DePaul offered Brian Bowen $200K, but he kept recruiting him

Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino has maintained his innocence in the alleged nefarious recruitment process of former five-star Brian Bowen, whom the FBI believes was compensated $100,000 in return for his commitment to the Cardinals. Court documents released Thursday by U of L make Pitino's assertion more difficult to believe.

Attorneys for the Louisville Athletic Association characterized Pitino's legal arguments that he was not heavily involved with Bowen as "directly contrary to the evidence obtained thus far in discovery," according to the Courier-Journal. One text revealed is particularly damning, which indicates Pitino was aware other programs were trying to pay Bowen for his commitment.

"DePaul was trying to pay Bowen 200k to come there. Crazy world!" Pitino texted his then-assistant coach, Kenny Johnson, on June 2, 2017. The text was sent one day before Bowen pledged his public loyalty to Pitino and Louisville, though it did come shortly after Bowen enrolled at Louisville for summer courses. 

Also damning in the new Wednesday court filings is more evidence of a working relationship between Pitino and Christian Dawkins, the ex-agent who has been indicted in the federal corruption case. Dawkins texted Pitino with concerns about other schools trying to exert their influence on Bowen's college choice on June 2, 2017, the same day Pitino sent the text to his assistant about DePaul making a push to land Bowen, asking Pitino to assure Bowen's camp that things were square. 

"Coach…do me a favor. Call big Brian [Bowen's father]. Everything is good," Dawkins texted Pitino on June 2, 2017. "The Nike guys, Wes, everyone is hating that [Bowen] chose Louisville. We are 100% good. But I just want him to hear from u."

Pitino later recalled Bowen's recruitment and subsequent commitment as a matter of happenstance, saying the five-star "fell into our lap." But these court documents would seemingly indicate that Pitino was intimately involved in his process. The timeline of the text messages revealed Thursday would indicate that he was also aware of the inner workings of his recruitment process, too.

Pitino is suing the ULAA for breach of contract and their "just cause" firing, claiming he is owed the $4.3 million annual salary that he was entitled to through June 2026. He has also accused his former employer of setting in motion a smear campaign with hopes of damaging his reputation to save money in booting him and former AD Tom Jurich.

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