As the Karen Sypher trial continued on, and the absurd details of her encounter with Rick Pitino came out, the obvious reaction from both this fanbase and nearly everyone who is not a UL fan was predictable: scorn and humor. While the “15 seconds” and “On the leg” comments will never leave Pitino, I gotta admit that he has probably suffered greater consequences than his actions warranted. Remember, he was not on trial nor did anything criminal, yet he received significantly more criticism than the actual criminal, Karen Sypher. But nonetheless, Pitino has certainly been tarnished forever by that one romp.
But, one consequence that may have been warranted but has not come about has been Pitino’s termination as UL basketball coach. Pitino has a morals clause in his contract, and if this entire situation didn’t fall under that, then basically nothing will. But, Tom Jurich made that decision to keep Pitino, likely due to the opening of their new arena. But then 2 details came out that I feel warranted immediate termination from Jurich:
a. Pitino hinted that Tim Sypher could receive a raise to deal with some of the demands that Karen Sypher was making. While it appears no such action was actually taken, the fact that Rick would even suggest he could use university funds to essentially cover up and affair is incredibly negligible to me.
b. He met with Sypher in the Yum Center, meaning that these “negotiations” were taking place on university property during Rick’s work time. Imagine if you brought a woman you were having an affair with the your workplace to work out ANYTHING. That is unlikely to be accepted by any employer.
So, here is my question: If this and the other situations below happened to the University of Kentucky basketball coach, how do you think Mitch Barnhart should handle it. It’s easy to point and laugh at Pitino, but if the shoe was on our foot, would we want to keep our coach.
(FOR ALL OF THESE SCENARIO’S, ASSUME THAT OUR COACH WAS COMING OFF A 30+ WIN SEASON)
SCENARIO #1 (Rick Pitino Scenario)
Details: Coach has a one night affair in a public place. A pregnancy may or may not have resulted in affair, but coach pays for abortion of child. Coach is then extorted by the woman, leading to an embarrassing trial. Details come out of meetings on university property as well as suggestion of raises possibly being given as a cover-up.
BTI Verdict: TERMINATION. Obviously, Pitino will not face this fate, but I don’t care how many wins this coach brings to the table, the entire scope of this incident is just too much embarrassment for one university, especially one with a supposedly elite basketball program. It’s not just the affair and the abortion. It’s the connection to other members of the staff and the potential cover-up.
SCENARIO #2 (Bob Knight Scenario)
Details: Coach clearly has a little bit of an anger problem, leading to numerous confrontations with officials and administrators. Video then surfaces of contact between coach and player during a practice. Shortly there after, coach has a verbal run-in with student who may or may not have provoked coach. Beyond all of this, the coach’s players graduate and stay out of trouble.
BTI VERDIT: NO TERMINATION. This is such a tough call because the coach clearly is a ticking time bomb. And the coach clearly needs to be taking some classes, but to terminate (as they did with Knight) is excessive. Remember that the incident that got Knight fired was maybe the 25th worst thing he had done. This is one of those instances where winning big will trump some bad behavior. Ask Indiana fans if they considered Bob Knight an embarrassment and they will almost unanimously tell you no, and that was because Indiana won big. If they had still been winning big in 2001, Knight would not have been fired. And under this scenario, coming off a 30+ win season, the UK coach would not have been fired.
SCENARIO #3 (Larry Eustachy Scenario)
Details: Coach goes out after game to party with college kids. Pictures surface of him kissing co-eds and being extremely intoxicated.
BTI VERDIT: TERMINATION. For me, going out during the season and acting in this manner is what causes the termination. If this had been done in the off-season, maybe I think another way. In Eustachy’s case, he ended up resigning because of this incident, but his athletic director had recommended he be fired anyway. It’s not even the drinking either, its the fact that the coach went out to frat party’s and on campus keggers. And then pictures surfaced of the kisses, and that would be the final straw for me.
SCENARIO #4 (Billy Gillispie Scenario)
Details: Coach is verbally abusive towards players. Stories come out of coach putting players in bathrooms stalls and threatening to make them walk home from road arena. Coach has several difficult moments with press. No physical or off the job issues are known.
BTI VERDICT: NO TERMINATION. Obviously, in the real life case of Billy Gillispie, he got fired because of wins and losses. But in this scenario, the coach is coming off 30 wins. Assume that Billy Gillispie treated the players like he did, had the two run-ins with Jeanine Edwards, had the numerous cold answers to Tom Leach, and also won 30+ games. Would he then deserve to be fired for his treatment of players and others. I would say no, and I would think most of you would agree. There is a theme here: WINNING TRUMPS EVERYTHING. There is a large level of “embarrassment” that a fanbase will/should accept for winning big. This is the perfect case.
SO, IN WHICH OF THESE SCENARIO’S DOES THE COACH GET CANNED AND WHICH ONES DOES HE KEEP HIS JOB? YOU BE THE JUDGE.