BOZICH | What Rick Pitino did -- and did not -- say at U of L ba - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | What Rick Pitino did -- and did not -- say at U of L basketball luncheon

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Rick Pitino spoke to about 1,200 fans at the Louisville basketball tip-off luncheon Tuesday. Rick Pitino spoke to about 1,200 fans at the Louisville basketball tip-off luncheon Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – About 1,200 University of Louisville fans stood and cheered before Rick Pitino started his remarks at the school’s basketball tip-off luncheon Tuesday at the downtown Marriott.

The crowd also stood and cheered when Pitino finished his remarks nearly 20 minutes later.

Here are highlights of what was said -- as well as what was not said -- during the luncheon:

Pitino said if any rules were broken by the basketball program, U of L will acknowledge the issues.

“I do know this,” Pitino said. “If there was any wrongdoing -- it’s a big ‘if’ -- people have to pay for their crimes. And that’s an ‘if.” If it happens, we will own up to it and do the best we can under adverse situations.

“I hope those ‘ifs’ are not true … we will find the truth, whatever that may be. And people will pay the price for any wrongdoing that may occur.”

Pitino said that he understands the motivation of an author (Katina Powell in this case) of a book like “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” which alleges that Powell arranged for sex for U of L recruits and players from 2010-14.

Pitino said the question he cannot answer is why anybody associated with his program might have been motivated to work with Powell and pay about $10,000 as well as game tickets for the services that she and her escorts allegedly provided.

“There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ here, if it did happen,” Pitino said. “And the ‘ifs’ are not being answered. They have to be answered by the NCAA …

“I know the ‘whys,’ from the other end. I don’t know the ‘why’ from our end. Still can’t figure it out, no matter how little sleep I get. No matter how much my mind wanders at night.”

Pitino did not provide any information about the state of the school’s internal investigation led by The Compliance Group or when the findings of that investigation are expected. He did not discuss any NCAA investigation of the program.

Pitino said that he has no problem looking in the mirror concerning his responsibility in this matter.

“As far as NCAA rules are about, I know what I’m all about,” he said. “That one-day contract and the ability to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself from 41 years of coaching? I feel great about myself.”

Pitino did not say which of the allegations, if any, are untrue. He has not made a blanket denial during multiple interviews since the story broke publicly on Oct. 2.

Pitino said that he has about 20 managers on the basketball team and that if one of his players appears downtown, “I hear about it the next day.

“Not one manager, nobody would come forth and say they saw any wrongdoing.”

Kenny Klein, U of L’s senior associate athletic director for media relations, said before the event that Jurich and Pitino had no plans to answer media questions. Typically, during investigations, the NCAA asks school representatives not to discuss any allegations.

Pitino left before media members could approach him. Jurich walked past me without making any comment. In fact, Jurich did not speak to fans during the luncheon.

Pitino said that if problems occurred, they would be fixed. “I don’t have any concerns about solving these problems at all,” he said.

Pitino said that he is suffering from “walking pneumonia.” Father Ed Bradley, a long-time friend of Pitino, said that the coach was diagnosed with the condition three days ago.

Pitino said that assistant coach Ralph Willard was examined by two physicians Tuesday morning and told that his heart has been out of rhythm 37 times in the last month or so. On Monday Willard announced that he had requested an indefinite medical leave. Former U of L player David Padgett will replace Willard.

Pitino said that he hopes the allegations are not true because some of them reportedly occurred in Minardi Hall. He shared the story of how he raised $5 million to build the players’ dormitory to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, his brother-in-law who was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

“We built it as a place where camaraderie would be,” Pitino said. “Players interacting with other students, living by high standards because that’s what Billy was all about. His friends, his family were the most important things in his life.

“So when this thing came out it hit us all like a bombshell … That building means a great deal to me. I’d have a very difficult time forgiving the people if any of those ‘ifs’ are true. And I’m a very forgiving person.”

Pitino said that he was not angry at WHAS radio personality Terry Meiners, who began an interview last week by asking Pitino if he had plans to resign.

“Some people thought he blindsided me,” Pitino said. “He probably did … The person who blindsided me is my friend … his job is not to build me up in that moment, his job is get to the truth.”

Pitino said that he is committed to NCAA rules as well as a level playing field.

“Every player I’ve ever coached knew exactly where I stand,” he said. “Because I believe in the rules … We believe that we’re going to win for the reasons set forth in practice.”

Pitino did make a joke about his affinity for one-and-done basketball players. But he was not talking about any members of his talented freshman class. He was praising Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, a pair of graduate transfers who are seniors on this team.

Lee, who played at Drexel, and Lewis, formerly of Cleveland State, have one year of eligibility at U of L.

Pitino said that he did not read a recent column on Sports Illustrated’s website written by Michael Rosenberg that was critical of the environment for women at the University of Louisville.

“I don’t care what Sports Illustrated says,” Pitino said. “I haven’t read them in years.”

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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