Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has settled his federal lawsuit against Adidas in a confidential agreement.

A federal judge dismissed the case in August 2018, agreeing with the apparel maker that Pitino’s claims first should be handled in arbitration.

“Over sixteen years working with Adidas, Coach Pitino demonstrated his passion for the game of basketball and his commitment to excellence both on and off the court,” according to a joint statement released Monday. “We wish Coach Pitino the best in his new role as head coach of Panathinaikos, the Greek national team and any future endeavors.”

Pitino sued Adidas in October 2017 in U.S. District Court in Louisville, alleging that he was damaged by the company’s “outrageous conduct in conspiring to funnel money to the family of a college basketball recruit.”

He was fired fired Oct. 16, 2017, less than three weeks after federal investigators tied the U of L program to a scheme to pay recruits.

Adidas is the official apparel provider for U of L's basketball team; Pitino had a separate sponsorship deal with Adidas, but the company severed it shortly after the criminal allegations came to light. 

The apparel company had argued evidence suggested Pitino was “both aware and supported the scheme” to pay players.

The evidence cited by Adidas against Pitino from the complaint includes allegations that the former coach was asked to call an Adidas executive, James Gatto, to get more funding for a recruit. And the company points out that Pitino allegedly called Gatto three times before the recruit announced his commitment. 

Pitino argued he was not aware of the actions and had nothing to do with the scheme. 

Lawyers for both sides had disagreed over whether the ex-coach’s claim fell within the scope of a 2014 sponsorship agreement Pitino signed to promote Adidas products, according to court filings.

That agreement called for any dispute to be first sent to a mediator and then to arbitration by the American Arbitration Association in Portland, Ore.

A judge determined that Pitino’s claim in the lawsuit is at “least arguably covered” by the agreement and wrote that a final decision on that must be made by an arbitrator.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.