Pitino's first public comments on Karen Sypher extortion case
-- See raw video of his reaction.
-- by Julie Tam, FOX 41 News
For the first time, UofL head basketball coach Rick Pitino speaks out about the alleged extortion plot against him.
Pitino was actually holding a news conference about his new hire -- assistant basketball coach Ralph Willard. But when you're in a room full of reporters, someone is bound to ask about Karen Sypher. And Pitino responded.
"My job is to focus on the University of Louisville and the basketball program," Pitino said. "And I've got to do the best job. Times aren't easy. I'm not going to lie to you and I'm not going to talk about it. Times aren't easy."
Times when Rick Pitino finds himself involved in a federal investigation into Karen Sypher -- who is divorcing Pitino's equipment manager, Tim.
Pitino went to the FBI in March, claiming he had been "recently threatened as part of a criminal scheme to extort money."
"But if I can get through 9/11, I can get through anything in my life, and I got through 9/11, and there's nothing ever going to come close to that," Pitino said. "We'll get through this in a positive way and move on."
Pitino lost a brother-in-law in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In an exclusive interview with FOX 41, Sypher made personal claims against Pitino that we are working to verify. FOX 41 also conducted an independent lie detector test that was ruled inconclusive.
While Pitino claims he is a victim of extortion, Sypher says Pitino demanded a list of requests from her, which included college tuition for her children, two cars, a house paid off, and $10 million, if she would keep quiet about their encounter and protect Pitino's name for life.
Sypher said: "He said, 'I have. What do you want me to do, Karen? I'll give you $100,000 and I'll leave and go to the Suns. I've already been offered.'"
"I'm going to coach here until I retire," Pitino said. "And there was no truth to the Sacremento Kings. There's no truth to any speculation at all that's been said. Very little truth has been said, period, in this town in a long time and the truth will be told at a certain time. But I'm going to be coaching here 'cause I love the University of Louisville, I love the city of Louisville, I love the state of Kentucky. Nothing will deter me from that job, nothing will stop that."
Karen Sypher is charged with extortion and lying to federal agents.
Her trial is scheduled for later this month, but her attorney has requested for the court to postpone it.