BOZICH | Pitino speaks on Langford, Adidas, AAU basketball, Board of Traitors
Rick Pitino appeared on the Ramsey and Rutherford radio show Wednesday to discuss the recruitment of Romeo Langford, Adidas, AAU basketball, the U of L "Board of Traitors," and more.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In an appearance on a local radio show Wednesday afternoon, former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said he was certain New Albany High School star Romeo Langford would have committed to his program if Pitino had remained the U of L coach.
But Pitino, who was fired by U of L last fall, said he believes Adidas worked to ensure that Langford committed to a program that had a deal with Adidas by sponsoring his AAU program and high school team.
On April 30, Langford committed to Indiana, another Adidas school, choosing the Hoosiers over Kansas, another Adidas school, and Vanderbilt, which is connected to Nike.
“The shoe companies buy the AAU franchise,” Pitino said on the Ramsey and Rutherford show, hosted by John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford on KRD 790 AM radio in Louisville.
“They can pay (the AAU teams) whatever they want to pay them. They can pay them $200,000. They can pay them $20,000. That’s up to them.
“I don’t know what they were paying Langford’s AAU team (Twenty Two Vision). I have no idea. Apparently the head of the AAU team got the money. I don’t know how much it was. I don’t know anything about it. I think it was all above board. I think it was all legal.”
Pitino said that Langford’s parents, Tim and Sabrina, handled their son’s recruitment as well as any family that he could remember. He said he was not suggesting they did anything wrong.
“His dad and mom handled recruiting better than any people I’ve seen,” Pitino said. “You weren’t allowed to talk to Romeo. They kept everything under wraps. They wanted to make sure nobody cheated, nobody did anything wrong as far as their son.”
On Wednesday morning the Washington Post posted a story outlining the relationship between the Langford family and Adidas, which included the company’s sponsorship of the Twenty Two Vision AAU team as well as New Albany High School boys’ basketball program. The ties between Adidas and those programs have been well-known for more than a year
Pitino said the story was a result of his giving his e-mails and text messages to Will Hobson, a reporter from the Washington Post.
“In my opinion, we were going to get Romeo Langford,” Pitino said. “We were the leader.”
In February 2016, Pitino said that he became concerned about the recruitment of Langford after he was told that a representative of Adidas might be helping the coach from another one of its college programs, UCLA, in its recruitment of Langford. (At the time, UCLA was tied to Adidas, although the Bruins have switched to Under Armour.)
Pitino said he told an Adidas rep that he didn’t want the company to help Louisville. “I just don’t want you to hurt us,” Pitino said.
In January 2017, Jim Gatto and T. J. Gassnola, two Adidas representatives, met with him to advise him that other apparel companies, Nike and Under Armour, were trying to develop relationships with Langford. The concern was that if Nike developed a tie with Langford, it could result in the player choosing one of Nike’s powerhouse programs, such as Kentucky or Duke.
“The Dad never asked for a single thing,” Pitino said. “The Mom never asked for a single thing. The kid never asked for a single thing. I thought it was one of the most honest recruitment I’ve seen.”
Pitino moved to Miami and did not coach last season after his dismissal by Louisville. He talked about several other developments during his radio appearance Wednesday.
*He said that he had been offered one Division I coaching job but turned it down. Pitino, 65 said it was unlikely that he would be hired until the current federal investigation into college basketball is completed.
“I take it one day at a time,” he said. “I think everybody is sort of cautious. I think they want to see who’s guilty, who’s innocent before anything comes my way.”
*He repeated his insistence that he had no knowledge of the sex and prostitution parties that former U of L staffer Andre McGee arranged that resulted in the NCAA vacating the school’s 2013 men’s basketball championship. U of L was also placed on NCAA probation and the school self-imposed other penalties, including sitting out the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
*Pitino said he had no knowledge of the alleged agreement to pay $100,000 to the family of Brian Bowen, the five-star prospect who committed to Louisville last June.
*Pitino said that he was happy that former Louisville assistant coach Kenny Johnson was hired to work at LaSalle University.
*Pitino again sharply criticized U of L board of trustees chairman David Grissom as well as board member John Schnatter, calling them the leaders of the “board of traitors.” He said Grissom and Schnatter were not Louisville supporters. Pitino expressed his displeasure that there were “two or three” Kentucky graduates on the U of L board.
*Finally, although Pitino said that he has lived vicariously this spring through the NBA success of his former U of L players, Terry Rozier and Donovan Mitchell, he missed staying away from the Kentucky Derby. Pitino was a part-owner of a filly that ran in the Kentucky Oaks.
“Of course I did,” Pitino said. “I’ve been to the Derby I think 24 of 25 years.”
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