Written by Jeff Borzello at ESPN.com
Louisville’s athletic board voted unanimously to fire Rick Pitino despite arguments earlier Monday from his lawyers that the Hall of Fame basketball coach had no knowledge of activities alleged in an FBI investigation.
The University of Louisville Athletic Association met for more than five hours Monday before making the decision. Pitino did not attend the meeting, but his lawyers submitted an affidavit on his behalf that said the coach disputes the board’s right to fire him “for cause.”
“We listened carefully to what they said,” Louisville interim president Greg Postel said after the announcement. “We read carefully everything they gave us in the booklet of materials, and at the end of the conversation, we felt that our initial decision to begin the process of termination for cause was still in the best interest of the university, and that’s why the resolution was put forward and passed.
“There isn’t just a single reason. There were a number of issues that, over time, were brought to our attention. And we simply felt that this was in the best interest of the university, and make the decision at this point in time.”
After the vote, Adidas issued a statement: “In light of the decision by the University of Louisville, Adidas has terminated its personal services agreement with Rick Pitino, effective immediately.”
Pitino has $44 million remaining in salary and bonuses in a contract extension through the 2025-26 season. Postel said the board did not discuss a buyout or settlement.
Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Sept. 27 after the program was linked to the FBI’s investigation into fraud and corruption in college basketball. On Oct. 2, the ULAA began the process to terminate Pitino for cause.
The FBI announced last month that 10 men — including four assistant coaches and top Adidas executive James Gatto — were charged with crimes relating to the investigation. Louisville was not explicitly named in court documents, but Postel confirmed the school was part of the investigation.
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