ESPN’s investigation into the Louisville scandal is everywhere today. If you missed it, five former Louisville players and recruits told “Outside the Lines” they attended stripper parties at Minardi Hall, and one former player confirmed he had sex with a dancer after Louisville staffer Andre McGee paid her. The details continue to mount against the Cards, and the national media is all over the story, which led the 7:30 hour of “Good Morning America” and has taken over every show on ESPN. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what they’re saying:
Stephen A. Smith on “First Take”: “I am willing to say, this does not look very good for him. He appears to be in trouble and considering, albeit for an entirely different reason, how Larry Brown has been stained, I don’t know how you get around this not stopping at the footsteps of Rick Pitino.”
Skip Bayless on “First Take”: “If you are the head of the basketball program, you are the CEO. You have to know because it’s hard for me to believe that McGee, even as a graduate student, flew completely solo here, that he acted completely independently of his head coach.”
Dan LeBatard: “I don’t care about any of the moralizing we’re going to do about it,” LeBatard said of the scandal. “We’re policing this thing when what we’re talking about it sex and stripper and college. What are we doing”?
LeBatard on Pitino’s role: “Absence of knowing is not a good enough excuse.”
I still don't believe Rick Pitino knew what Andre McGee was doing but I'm far less confident he survives this today than I was two weeks ago
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) October 20, 2015
I am an unabashed fan of Rick Pitino. But I don't see any way he survives this. #Louisville
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) October 20, 2015
Seth Greenberg: “I don’t think there’s any chance in my mind that Rick Pitino will remain the head basketball coach at the University Louisville moving forward. I don’t know if it will be now, I don’t know if it will be a month from now, I don’t know if it will be next year. …Once all the information comes out, I don’t think that Louisville, moving forward, can have Rick Pitino as their head coach because recruiting is all about acquiring talent. Acquiring talent is all about eliminating the negatives and there’s just too many negatives right now, there’s too much static around this program to let Rick Pitino remain the head coach.”
“I don’t think there’s any chance Rick Pitino steps down,” Greenberg continued. “I don’t think he’ll step down, but I think that decision should not be Rick Pitino’s decision. It should be the university’s decision, the Board of Trustee’s decision, the athletic director’s decision. It’s hard right now to fathom Louisville moving forward with this cloud hanging over them. It’s difficult, whether he knew or not.”
Jay Bilas: “I’ve become more and more shocked by this. When it first came out, it was hard to believe, and now that there’s substantial evidence behind the allegations, I think it’s even harder to believe in one regard, but you can’t be naive. Clearly this went on, but it still shocks me. It’s not anything that I have heard of in college athletics in the last 20-some year. It shocks the conscious, frankly.”
If Rick Pitino isn’t already packing up his office at Louisville, he ought to get started.
This was his program and, like it or not, he’s responsible for everything associated with it. When someone Pitino hired is accused of paying teenage girls to strip and have sex with players Pitino thought enough of to want on his team, some of the blame has to fall on Pitino, too.
Louisville is now a punch line, a school only Hugh Hefner could admit to loving, and that isn’t likely to play well with big-pocketed donors. They’ve already weathered one sex scandal involving Pitino, and that one now seems tame by comparison.
On a local level, Rick Bozich had a strong take in his column this afternoon, calling for Pitino to go:
No way Pitino survives this tawdry scandal of strippers, prostitutes, recruits, U of L players and sex that has swallowed its program for the last 18 days.
No way that Pitino should survive this, an inevitability that I believe even U of L president Dr. James Ramsey realized more than a week ago when his first statement featured support for athletic director Tom Jurich but not Pitino.
More as it comes in…