Prosecutors Say Rick Pitino Was Active Participant in Scheme to Funnel Money to Top Recruit
New details have been released about the massive FBI sting operation that resulted in fraud and bribery charges against numerous college basketball coaches and Adidas executive James Gatto. They explicitly implicate college basketball legend Rick Pitino—who was not one of the coaches charged, but was fired by Louisville anyway—in a scheme to funnel money from Adidas to top recruit Brian Bowen.
The details come from the September indictment of four assistant NCAA basketball coaches and Adidas executive James Gatto. In July, the FBI got undercover agents into a meeting between sports agent Christian Dawkins and several other men at a wired Las Vegas hotel room.
Here’s what Dawkins said about Pitino in that meeting according to the original complaint:
“Dawkins said he had spoken with Coach-2 [who has been reported to be Pitino] about getting additional money for [Bowen’s] family and informed [Pitino] that ‘I need you to call Jim Gatto, who’s the head of everything’ at [Adidas’s] basketball program.”
The original complaint then says Gatto had two telephone conversations with a phone number associated with Pitino, two days before Bowen committed to Louisville. However, all of this only suggested that Dawkins asked Pitino to get involved, which means he would have known about the scheme in July. It does not specifically allege that Pitino participated. After all, it was Gatto who allegedly called him.
The account of that hotel meeting in the actual indictment of James Gatto, made public on Wednesday, tells a very different story.
Take a look:
“Dawkins explained that while [Pitino] and the University of Louisville were recruiting [Bowen], Dawkins asked [Pitino] to call James Gatto to request that [Adidas] provide the money requested by the family of [Bowen], which [Pitino] agreed to do.”
That’s a pretty big difference. In this account, Dawkins claims not only that he asked Pitino to get involved, but that Pitino agreed to do it.
That is still hearsay in a court of law. There is no physical evidence against Pitino, only Dawkins’ account, which is why Pitino has not been charged with anything. However, as we’ve seen on countless occasions, sports leagues do not need incontrovertible physical evidence to hand out their own punishments. This allegation could be more than enough for the NCAA to, for example, ban Rick Pitino for life.
Hat Tip – [Yahoo Sports]