CRAWFORD | In radio interview, Pitino says Louisville 'did right thing' with self-imposed postseason ban
University of Louisville says he knows a lot more about the NCAA investigation into his program than he did during the season, and now believes the university made the right decision in self-imposing a postseason ban, he told The Ramsey & Rutherford Show on Wednesday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Because of NCAA rules, University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino can't say whether he has met with the NCAA officials, though sources close to the investigation have told WDRB that he was scheduled to meet with them a little more than a week ago.
What he could say was that he now knows more about the NCAA investigation into Katina Powell's allegations of providing strippers and escorts for players and recruits within his program. You can draw your own conclusion as to how.
But in light of what he has learned, Pitino himself has drawn a conclusion on the school's decision to ban its men's basketball program from the postseason during a Feb. 5 announcement that took him and his team by surprise.
"We went through a tough year," Pitino told John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford on their 93.9 The Ville FM radio program on Wednesday. ". . . Look, I know a lot more today than I did during the season, as far as what went on, and what didn't go on. I wasn't believing that somebody writes a book, I can tell you that much, that infiltrated and hurt our program. I'm not putting any stock in that. But all I will say is that the university, and President (James) Ramsey and (athletic director) Tom Jurich made all the right moves. They did all the right things. Now, did our players suffer, did our coaches suffer? Yes. But they made all the right moves.
"I don't agree with the process and what goes on with innocent people not being able to play, but they made all the right moves, because today I know a lot more than what I didn't know back then. You can rest assured that our leadership is great. I believe in them 100 percent. Dr. Ramsey has done some awesome things for our university. Tom Jurich is the best AD in the business, and their leadership I support 100 percent."
Pitino said when Jurich came to him and February and told him of the decision for a postseason ban, he asked the athletic director to sleep on it through the Super Bowl weekend. Jurich told the coach he couldn't disclose details of the investigation to Pitino because he had not yet been interviewed by the NCAA, but that it was a necessary move.
"All I needed to hear was that Tom thought it was the right thing," Pitino said. "If that man says it, then I'm going to follow it."
Rutherford asked Pitino if he now believes that most of the scandal and its ramifications are "in the rear-view mirror" for the program and school.
"I do," Pitino answered, "if you look at the history of what goes on. I don't concern myself with that. Tom felt the same way. We did all the right things. We feel it's going to end. It's unfortunate what people did to embarrass and humiliate our program. But, we're going to do the right things to clean it up. There are certain things you're not going to know about or believe. Somebody said the other day to me, 'I cannot believe that my son did what he did. He's just the greatest kid.' And I said, 'You know what, Andre McGee was like a son to me, who I believed in, who I trusted. No different than Damion (Lee), no different than Trey (Lewis). Gave him the breaks of his life. Our paths will probably never cross again. The only thing I will say, I've said it over and over, I don't know why he did it. There's no advantage, there's no benefit. I don't know why. And someday, I hope we do cross, because I would like to know, why you'd do such a disgraceful thing, and why you got involved with that woman anyway? I don't understand any of it."
The interview was wide-ranging, and you can hear it in its entirety here. But at the end of the interview, the question was posed as to whether Pitino felt he could forgive McGee. He answered at length.
"I've spoken long and hard with (former Southeast Christian senior pastor) Bob Russell about this," Pitino said. "He's become a real close friend of mine, and Father (Ed) Bradley as well. And Father Bradley brought up a good point. He said, 'You're not the Pope, you're light years away from this Pope, and the last Pope before him went to prison to forgive the person who shot him.' I said, 'Well, Father, you're not the Pope, I'm not the Pope, and I don't know if I can do that.' But forgiveness is something, and Bob Russell just said the right comment to me, that, 'You're just going to have to find it in your heart to forgive him.' And I'm going to have to do it. Right now, I'm having a very, very difficult time doing it. And it just shows you the small person that I am, for not finding it in my heart. But someday I will. It's just going to take a little time."
And so, likely, will the NCAA's investigation. There is no timetable for a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, though the school would no doubt like to have the matter wrapped up before the beginning of next season.
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