CRAWFORD | Why would someone link Pitino with UNLV? It's complic - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Why would someone link Pitino with UNLV? It's complicated

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

AUBURN, Ala. (WDRB) — The Las Vegas Review Journal sent a bit of a jolt through Louisville on Saturday afternoon when it reported that a source close to Rick Pitino said the coach would be interested in UNLV’s open coaching job if approached.

When I caught up with Pitino on Saturday, he said of his reported interest: “No. The only thing I’m interested in is beating Florida State” (Louisville’s opponent on Wednesday).

So why would someone close to Pitino think he might be interested in UNLV?

Well, to use the phrase made popular on social media, “it’s complicated.”

Pitino hasn’t said anything about U of L president James Ramsey's silence regarding him since allegations of an escorts-for-recruits scandal rocked the program in early October. Ramsey later issued a statement expressing full confidence in athletic director Tom Jurich, but not mentioning Pitino, and after that put out another statement not mentioning Pitino.

Moreover, Ramsey’s own leadership position at U of L has fallen upon some shaky times, with trustees reconsidering his role with the U of L Foundation, and two trustees publicly withdrawing their support for him.

I don’t get the feeling that Pitino wants out of Louisville. At all. In fact, in recent weeks, his enthusiasm for the program has seemed rejuvenated. He likes the young team he has. He has another graduate transfer in the fold and a big-time high school recruit already signed.

But there are those close to him who wonder if he has a clear idea where he stands with university leadership — outside of Jurich, who has continued to be supportive and encouraged him to coach his team and not worry about NCAA matters.

With an NCAA finding on his program still looming ahead — including a determination of Pitino’s own direct responsibility level, which has yet to be determined — nobody’s doing anything rash. Everybody is just trying to do their jobs and handle things as they come, and I’d include Pitino, Ramsey and Jurich all in that.

But someone close to Pitino thinking that UNLV might be a welcome landing spot should university support wane would not be surprising.

At this point, it’s worth noting that there’s no indication that Pitino knew or had any kind of direct or indirect role with the events under investigation. Even Katina Powell’s own book, describing one alleged “show” that didn’t happen because Pitino kept the parties who were supposed to be involved too long, paints the picture of a coach who wasn’t part of those events.

But the larger issue of how much Pitino should have known, and to what degree the NCAA might find him negligent or hold him responsible because it says he should have known, has yet to be seen.

The Las Vegas Review Journal cited a university source saying, “If Pitino is interested, the money would be there.”

It’s probably not the only place. But the story mentioned 16 other potential candidates — including Pitino’s son, Richard.

In October, on his blog, Pitino wrote this: "Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years, but that time is not now. I do not fight these accusations by others, but rather turn the other cheek. Couldn't do it at 33, but at 63, it's the wise thing to do. Let's let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball."

Right now, Pitino said, his only interest is a successful season. He has the beginnings of a big-time basketball team, if not this season, certainly a year from now.

A great many things are likely to happen between now and then, but the odds of a Pitino departure for Las Vegas now seem pretty long.

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