Legendary NCAA basketball coach Rich Pitino has been suspended from his head coaching position at the University of Louisville over a federal investigation into bribery. The school's athletic director has been placed on leave as well.
Deemed the "dark underbelly" of college basketball, feds caught wind of the bribery scandal back in 2015 when an NBA financial advisor agreed to wear a wire "after being caught siphoning money from the accounts of pro athletes," according to NBC News.
The probe would eventually expose a corrupt scheme where "college coaches allegedly took bribes to steer top players to certain advisors, managers and even a suit-maker who stood to make a fortune if those players signed with the NBA." Adidas executive Jim Gatto was also fingered for allegedly bankrolling bribes to entice high school star athletes into attending colleges the company sponsored.
One such school sponsored by Adidas was Louisville, which the federal probe confirmed paid more than $100,000 to a young recruit's family in exchange for him playing for the school.
"Basically we just need to take care of his dad with two grand monthly," a recruiter was recorded telling an undercover agent.
The criminal complaints filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan were filed against assistant coaches of Louisville who were under the leadership of Pitino and the school's athletic director. Pitino has been placed on unpaid administrative leave; an interim coach is being sought as a replacement.
"If the allegations in the court documents are true, they oversaw assistant coaches who conspired with an executive at Adidas and a group of athletic middlemen to lure high schoolers to Louisville by funneling payoffs to their parents," reports NBC News.
Pitino's attorney told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the school's decision means he has been "effectively fired" while Louisville maintains that his "employment will be reviewed at a different date."
"Doing nothing would be a tacit endorsement of ethical and criminal behaviors," Louisville interim president Greg Postel said at a press conference. "While this may be a dark day, better days are ahead."
Pitino doesn't exactly have a clean record; he has seen his fair share of scandals over the years. From NBC News:
The bribery case isn't the first scandal to put a cloud over Pitino, who has been head coach of the men's team since 2001 and led it to a championship title in 2013.
In June, the NCAA hit him with a five-game suspension after investigating allegations that a former staffer supplied escorts to recruits and players.
In 2010, the married father of five admitted in court that he had sex in a restaurant with a former model who later went to prison for trying to extort him.
He has eight years left on a 10-year contract. He also earned more than $2 million from Adidas.
Pitino maintained in a statement that the scandal comes from "a few bad actors."
"Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable," the statement said.