Rick Pitino Addresses IARP’s Louisville Ruling After Years-Long Probe

Rick Pitino Addresses IARP’s Louisville Ruling After Years-Long Probe

On the same day that the Louisville men’s basketball program avoided major penalties from the NCAA after a probe into the program stemming from a 2017 FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino offered his opinions on the ruling and the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The IARP opted not to impose a postseason ban on Louisville, while Pitino—now at Iona—and former Cardinals coach Chris Mack also avoided NCAA penalties. The program will pay a $5,000 fine and take a minor reduction in available recruiting days, as well as two years of probation.

On Thursday, Pitino spoke to the media after essentially being exonerated by the IARP, which will soon be dissolved by the NCAA.

“The IARP apparently is going away, and I’m very disappointed in that for other coaches and other programs and other universities, because these are legal experts who are strict with due process,” Pitino said, per Brooks Holton of the Courier Journal. “They don’t believe in hearsay.”

The program had to vacate its title in 2018, a decision that Pitino is still upset over. In his media address, the current Iona coach promoted his decades of successful programs and former assistant coaches and players who have gone on to prosperous coaching careers. He also stated his regret in former Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich’s resignation following the FBI investigation.

“See, Tom Jurich, in all of this, he came to me—and a lot of people don’t know this—three weeks prior to me being fired and said two people, two people that I don’t want to mention their names because I have such a distaste for them, two people said that, ‘Tom, if you don’t fire Rick Pitino, we’re gonna fire you.’ And he said, ‘That’s not gonna happen, Coach. You’re not gonna be fired. You did nothing wrong.’

“He came to me a week later and said, ‘Coach, they’re gonna fire me if I don’t let you go.’ I said, ‘Tom, that’s it. You’re firing me. You built this place.’ … Tom Jurich, and if you take 1,000 athletic directors—and you all know that listening to me—999 would have fired me, and I don’t blame them for doing so,” Pitino said. “Tom Jurich said, ‘I could not sleep at night if I let you go,’ and that’s the biggest regret I have looking back on the situation.”

After Louisville fired Pitino in 2017 once the scandal broke, Pitino coached EuroLeague team Panathinaikos in Greece before being hired by Iona in ’20. Entering his third year with the Gaels, he expressed a desire to put the Louisville drama behind him.

“So those two years [in Greece] went by, and I got the opportunity now to come back to Iona and coach college basketball once again. I’m deeply appreciative of them, as well. But now it’s time to get on with this and certainly Louisville’s behind me,” Pitino said. “I wish them nothing but the best. [Current Louisville coach] Kenny Payne is a friend. I want to see him have great success.”

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