Once again, Rick Pitino can’t keep himself out of the news.
Despite telling the world three interviews ago he was done with interviews, the former Louisville head coach went on Captain Suntan’s radio show “Ramsey and Rutherford” this afternoon to discuss Romeo Langford, his coaching future, the FBI scandal, and how he was wronged by UofL.
“Well I said I wasn’t going to do another interview, but because it’s you guys I’ll do it,” he started the interview.
When asked whether or not he was ready to become a head coach again, Pitino said he has already turned down one offer, but he’s waiting for the dust to settle on the FBI situation so a better fit can come along.
“You know, I don’t know. I sort of take it one day at a time. I had one college team offer me a job, and that wasn’t going to work for me. But whether it be pro or college, when Louisville fired me without an explanation, without giving me an opportunity to explain myself, what I know, what I don’t know. Instead, they just fire me, and everyone says “Oh, he must be guilty.”
“When you hear FBI, when you hear indictments, everyone is sort of cautious,” Pitino said. (Uh, ya think?) “They want to see who’s guilty, who’s innocent before anything comes my way.”
This morning, Pitino was featured in a Washington Post article talking about Romeo Langford’s recruitment and how Adidas steered him to stay within the apparel company.
Here was an excerpt from the Post piece:
“The way they phrased it, it was whoever [shoe company] was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it,” said Pitino in a recent phone interview. A few days later, Adidas’s league added a new team: Twenty Two Vision, featuring Romeo Langford on the court and Tim Langford as team director. Shoe company sponsorships can reach $100,000 to $150,000, and team directors who limit expenses can pay themselves salaries from those amounts.
“That’s the way that world works,” Pitino said. “Which is completely legal, by the way.”
He clarified his comments with Ramsey and Rutherford, saying two Adidas officials, one being company executive Jim Gatto, reached out to him about keeping Langford with Adidas. And in Pitino’s mind, if Adidas was able to keep him, there was a greater chance he’d stick with Louisville rather than a Nike school like Kentucky or Duke.
“In my opinion, we were going to get Romeo Langford. We were the leader,” Pitino said. “One of the text messages (I turned over to the Washington Post) was from one of the Adidas people saying, “I’d like to meet with you…. They came to me, and they didn’t really want anything at all, the two Adidas guys. All they said to me was “Look, I know you’re recruiting Romeo Langford and we’re trying to keep him with Adidas.” And I said “Great, I hope we can keep him.” Obviously, I wanted him with Adidas because if he goes to Nike, then Kentucky is going to have a better chance or Duke is going to have a better chance. If he stays with Adidas, Louisville is going to have a better chance. The dad never asked for a single thing, mom never asked for a single thing, the kid never asked. I thought it was one of the most honest recruitments I had ever seen.”
He then clarified again that apparel companies funding AAU programs is 100% legal, and that the Langford family was completely clean. In fact, Pitino compared it to the Marvin Bagley III situation, where the recruit’s family found a loophole with the AAU programs to receive money. In the story released back in March, Bagley III’s mother and father reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2008 with a combined family income of just over $44,000, and just four years later, tax forms confirmed the family listed a home in Southern California that one real estate broker said could range anywhere from $750,000 to $1.5 million. Bagley III was also enrolled in a private school with a tuition cost of $36,250 per year.
Nike signed a sponsorship deal with Bagley’s AAU basketball program, and because the former Duke player’s father held a major role with the team, the money was legally funneled to the family.
When asked how he could know so much about the Langford situation, but absolutely nothing about the Brian Bowen or stripper situations, Pitino got a bit snippy, saying if you just look at the facts and not listen to the “BS” you’d know there was no way he knew what was going on.
“I’m so tired of listening to that stupid stuff. Someone said to me the other day, “You make so much money, how could you not know that Andre McGee had strippers? You know everyone’s body fat, how could you not know?” And then I tell them I’m probably the last person on earth that would know. If I did find out, Andre McGee knows he would be gone within ten seconds (insert joke here), so he’s going to do everything to keep that from me. Well, if the assistant coaches don’t know, if security in the dorm doesn’t know, if my nephews, whose dad that dorm was named after doesn’t know, if 20 managers don’t know… And most importantly, if Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, Mike Marra, Gorgui Dieng, if they had no idea what was going on, and they live in the dormitory, how the hell am I supposed to know what’s going on in that dorm? So when it gets down to it, if you just have a little common sense, and instead of talking and spewing BS, and you just listen a little bit, be rational, there’s absolutely no way any coach making $6-7 million is going to risk the slightest thing going wrong,” he said.
Pitino said that he understands the behavior was reprehensible, but to take down banners over $5800 worth of strippers is an outrage.
“For four years, this went on four times a year, for a total of $5800, you’re going to take down the national championship?” he said. “For a rogue employee who did the wrong thing when no one else was involved? You’re going to take down a championship that those kids earned and deserved? Now you can take a banner down, but you can’t take a championship away. And I still believe someday that championship will be reinstalled and those banners put back once the NCAA comes to their senses.”
Listen to Pitino’s entire interview below:
Never change, Rick.