CRAWFORD | Chairman of Louisville trustees: Our hope is Pitino stays as long as he wants
The chairman of Louisville's board of trustees issued a statement Friday night saying, "our genuine hope is that Coach (Rick) Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Larry Benz, the chairman of the University of Louisville board of trustees, tonight issued a statement on behalf of the board concerning basketball coach Rick Pitino, saying, “our genuine hope is that Coach Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants.”
There had been some national speculation that Pitino would be coaching his final game when the Cardinals face Virginia on Saturday night. Ian O’Connor of ESPN had speculated as such, as had others.
The full text of the statement from Benz: “I am deeply convinced that the NCAA findings will clear Coach Pitino of any knowledge of the alleged scandal,” Benz said. “Our genuine hope is that Coach Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants. We join our Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, in our complete support of him.”
Pitino told WDRB on Thursday that he felt it “highly likely” that he will return to coach the Cardinals next season, but comments by some at a contentious board of trustees meeting on Wednesday threw up questions over board support for Pitino. Trustee Emily Bingham included the following in a statement voicing wide-ranging concerns with President James Ramsey:
“In a basketball program already embarrassed by the sexual misconduct of its coach, egregious alleged sexual misconduct by employees and players was never met with clear, forceful condemnation from the president. Waiting for years for NCAA judgment is unacceptable. We cannot move forward with leaders whose moral compass on these issues is not clear.”
A day earlier, Pitino actually had brought up that sexual misconduct from 2003 when speaking with me, saying an ESPN reporter had asked him about it.
Pitino wrote an entire chapter of his most recent book, “The One-Day Contract,” on that chapter of his life, and the fallout. He told me on Thursday, “I made peace with my family and my wife and my God,” Pitino said. “That’s all I care about my legacy. The rest is all wins and losses.”
He said much the same in a response to Bingham’s statements in a blog post on Thursday.
Benz’s statement is an indicator of two things.
First, that Pitino can count on the support of the board of trustees. This statement, expressing the belief that the alleged violations took place without the knowledge of Pitino, means that under the current set of circumstances, he has the support of this important body.
Second, it indicates that Pitino has the full support of Tom Jurich. The athletic director hasn’t said much regarding the scandal. He wasn’t on the court for U of L’s senior night ceremonies this week. Those things lead to speculation. For the moment, that speculation can be put to rest.
As, perhaps, can speculation about Pitino’s future. He has maintained that he will take time after the season to reassess his program. But he has maintained consistently in recent weeks that he has been rejuvenated by this team, and hopes to move forward
“It’s highly likely that I’ll be back next season,” Pitino said. “I will do what I always do. I never decide anything right after the season. I’ll take a couple of weeks, see how I feel. But unless I come to the belief that me being here is not what’s best for the University of Louisville, then I’m coming back to work for a championship.”
Still, a final conclusion likely will wait for a final disposition of U of L's case with the NCAA.
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