Rick Pitino’s new book came out today, leading to a frenzy of takeaways, recaps, and reviews online. So far, the consensus seems to be that the book is full of the hot air we’ve come to expect from Pitino; however, some writers are taking the bait.
In his review of the book for The Courier-Journal, Tim Sullivan says many of Pitino’s claims “could be hard to refute,” listing Pitino’s rants about the U.S. Attorney, the UofL Board of Trustees, and the NCAA that we’ve heard over and over in countless interviews. But Sullivan also bites on Pitino’s new theory: that Governor Matt Bevin was out to get Tom Jurich way before the FBI’s report on the college basketball scandal was released.
That anecdote’s significance is that it would reinforce the perception that Jurich and Pitino were already in trouble prior to the U.S. Attorney’s press conference on Sept. 26, 2017; that U of L’s fast-acting trustees were essentially waiting for an excuse to claim “just cause” and void their contracts; that John Schnatter’s complaints at an April trustees meeting were orchestrated, and that revelations about the corners allegedly cut in Brian Bowen’s recruitment amounted to window-dressing.
Pitino alleged that Bevin, U of L trustees chairman David Grissom and Schnatter “were out to destroy Tom, destroy me, destroy the legacy of 16 years of great basketball, and maim a thriving, growing institution.”
Danielle Lerner and Gentry Estes, Sullivan’s colleagues at The Courier-Journal, published ten takeaways from the book, including this passage from Pitino about Kentucky fans being racist.
Pitino said the love for the Wildcats in the state “is rooted in any number of things: the dominance of Wildcats basketball, the history of the state, racism and Kentuckians’ vision of themselves as rural folk as opposed to city slickers.”
As for the mention of racism, Pitino goes on to say that “the segregated past of Kentucky basketball still cast an ugly shadow on the school” and that the parents of some African-American recruits he tried to lure as UK’s coach “were dead set against their sons playing at the Rupp Arena.”
“My insistence that institutions can evolve – which is something I wholeheartedly believe – didn’t always win over converts, and I can understand why,” Pitino wrote.
If the bridge between Pitino and Kentucky fans wasn’t already burned, that should soak in lighter fluid all over again.
We’ll have more on Pitino’s book throughout the day, including Drew Franklin’s review. Something tells me it won’t be quite as kind as Tim Sullivan’s.