Rick Pitino discusses Bevin, Grissom, his book and his future in interview with WDRB
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Rick Pitino’s latest book, “Pitino: My Story,” has been on the shelves for more than a week.
Pitino appeared on multiple national media outlets last week to promote the book. His first book signing events were in New York and New Jersey.
Pitino said that he plans to return to Louisville this weekend to discuss and sign his 255-page take on his Hall of Fame career as well as his version on the events of the final stretch of his 16-year career at the University of Louisville that ended with his dismissal about a year ago.
In advance of his appearance, Pitino talked to WDRB on Tuesday. Here are several topics Pitino wanted to discuss:
QUESTION: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said you sounded like a “desperate, angry, bitter person,” in the book as well as in interviews. What is your response to that?
PITINO: “The governor said I’m bitter, and I’m upset. Yeah, I am bitter at him. I am upset at him. But I’ve taken the consequences and the ownership of all this because I’ve lost my passion in life.
“So there’s nobody taking more ownership in this than me, because I’m done. The university has finished me. The Southern District (Court) in New York has finished me off. I’m done with it. So I have apparently taken ownership.”
QUESTION: Is this just you trying to write this book and kind of get your bearings after all that’s happened or what could a long-term future look like for you? Is a spot in the traditional media, like TBS or ESPN, in your future?
PITINO: “I don’t think the TV people realize that I have no involvement in this FBI investigation. I mean, they just … I think the U.S. Government … you know, I have a problem in three areas right now.
“I’m going to go very, very hard against all three areas and then put everything else behind me.
“One, I’m going to go very hard against the (U of L) board of trustees and my lawsuit for what they, how they ruined my career, in terms of not letting me explain to them I had nothing to do with that FBI investigation.
“Two, I’m going to go very, very hard against the Southern District of New York for putting my name in a complaint without a shred of evidence. Even to the point where we brought (a retired) FBI agent into the Southern District of New York to meet with them and for him to explain to them, ‘Look, he’s an expert at giving polygraphs.’ And he explained that to them.
“And they still, after all that, said, ‘Well, we deal with collateral damage all the time.’
“And then, three, down the road, I’m going to deal with the NCAA. When this lawsuit is settled, I’m going to deal with them, over what they did not only to Louisville but to myself, in regards to one of their people trying to get me to commit a felony, by the way he was asking questions.”
QUESTION: It seems like what the school did to you has stuck, while things have kind of rolled off (coaches at other schools)?
PITINO: “Well, what the school did, what the school did was not only ruin my career, and when I say school, (I mean) the board of trustees. What the board of trustees did not only ruined my career, they affected so many lives of family members as well that worked with me.
“But more important than that, they blew up a program for no rhyme or reason. There was no evidence at all against any of my assistant coaches. None. None of them will be indicted.
“I’m certainly not going to be indicted. And where everybody else just sat back and relaxed and said, ‘Let’s get the facts,’ they just got rid of one of the best ADs (Tom Jurich) in the business.
“Got rid of a coach who had a Final Four team. Never mind a Final Four team. Had a great basketball team with a lot of experience, great length. They just didn’t think of the players. Didn’t think of the program. Didn’t think of the community.
“They just knee-jerk reactioned and said, ‘His name was mentioned. He’s gone.’ And they did it in such an unprofessional way that it’s created a lot of bitterness, certainly from me.”
QUESTION: What do you want people to take away from your local appearance?
PITINO: “I just want them to read the book. That’s the only thing I ask. The book is a goodbye, a closing to a career that’s filled with a lot of ups and downs, certainly. The downs happen at the end of a career. In people sometimes … the Andre McGee that I knew is not the Andre McGee that I read about in (Katina Powell’s) book. And I didn’t read the book, I just read the accounts of the book.
“But that’s not the Andre McGee that I knew as a player. That’s not the Andre McGee that I knew. So you know that although I’m upset at everything that went on, there’s got to be more to this thing than what really happened. What drove Andre McGee to do this? Because that’s not the person his parents raised. That’s not the person that I mentored. That’s just not him.
“Now was he blackmailed? Was he mislead? Was he? I don’t know.
“It drives me crazy all the time just thinking about the ‘Why' part. Because it makes no sense. He couldn’t. He couldn’t move up the ladder that way. All he could do was self-destruct. There’s more to it. There’s just more to it. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
QUESTION: You plan to launch a podcast in October. You are going to write a blog in which you will comment on college and professional basketball. What’s ahead for you?
PITINO: “I’ve got to now put the passion I’ve had for basketball for 40 years and put it into other areas. I’m going to write a lot. This podcast I think will be interesting. I have a nice sponsor. I’m going to comment on college and professional basketball.
“I’ve just got to occupy my mind, because it’s not the way that I wanted my career to end. It’s not the way that I wanted to leave Louisville. It’s not the way I wanted to, but this wouldn’t have happened if Larry Benz and the other board of trustees were there.
“If somebody doesn’t want me to coach, I wish they would have come to me and said, ‘Hey coach, this year (is it). We want you to move on. No hard feelings.’ I would have done that.
“It would have been a much better ending for everybody involved. Sometimes people who are bullies just don’t want that to happen. They just want to bury you. They don’t want to things to be nice.
“It’s something that I don’t like to see bad things happen to anybody because (John Schnatter), I’m not very fond of him.
“But he has children, and I know how my family has suffered. I don’t like seeing anybody suffer. That being said, karma has a way of affecting people in many ways.
“I think David Grissom is going to find out what he did in ruining a lot of lives is just not right. And when we get to trial, there will be a lot of people called in that will tell the truth about a lot of things. With the governor. With David Grissom. With John Schnatter. That’s the only way for the truth to come out.”
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