Pitino defends U of L basketball program and says he will 'conti - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pitino defends U of L basketball program and says he will 'continue to move forward'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino blasted the NCAA's ruling and defended his program while saying he will continue to move forward "because that's what leaders do."

At a news conference along with U of L interim president Greg Postel and Athletics Director Tom Jurich, Pitino put much of the blame on for the men's basketball program's sex scandal on former director of operations Andre McGee. He says leaders "ask for forgiveness for what happened, for what one of your employees did, you're extremely contrite."

And Pitino didn't hold back in his criticism of the sanctions. "Not only do i feel like it is unjust, unfair, over the top and severe,  personally, I've lost a lot of faith in the NCAA."  And he says they'll fight back with the appeal, "this is over the top.  It's not even conceivable or believable what I just read, so we just have to put all of our trust and faith that we will do the right things in arguing our case."

Jurich echoed the sentiment about the NCAA. "I think my greatest disappointment is with the organization itself because we followed their guidelines to a tee, even exceeded in most positions."

The report underscored the NCAA's original view that Pitino should have known about McGee's activities with former escort Katina Powell. She alleged in a 2015 book that McGee had hired her and other escorts to strip and have sex with Louisville recruits and players.

Jurich says he finds it hard to believe some of the allegations are possible. "To not have one of these incidents ever pop up on social media, to me, is unconscionable. It's impossible," he said. 

The committee also said Pitino did not meet head coach rules by failing to monitor what was going in the basketball dorm on campus. And it says he delegated monitoring of McGee and the players to his assistant coaches, but the coaches told investigators they were not aware of that responsibility.

Pitino said all the alleged violations in the basketball dorm took place between midnight and 8 a.m. He says at 64-year-old he doesn't stay up that late. "This was hidden in the hours of the morning that no one could possibly find out about, so with that said, we are embarrassed with what went on. But one person does not determine the worth of this program." 

And the coach maintains it was McGee that was the problem.  "I take responsibility for this program, and leadership is about leading people the right way down the right path.  And what you are alluding to--31 assistant coaches -- and one person did the wrong thing."  And Pitino says, "I'm not going to talk about what I taught those 31 guys, as well as the one person who did not do the right thing." 

As for the future, Pitino says he plans on staying at U of L. "Leaders lead, and I plan on staying and winning multiple championships, not just one. I plan on going to multiple final fours, not just one." 

The NCAA suspended Pitino for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games next season, gave Louisville four years of probation and put McGee on a 10 year show-cause penalty.

That means any school that wants to hire McGee must go before the NCAA and explain why it should do so without getting penalized.

The NCAA says it will wait to identify which games will be vacated until the University of Louisville can respond. The committee says it is "standard process" to let the school respond as to which ineligible players were used in games to be vacated.

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