Friday, July 30, 2010
Would Rick Pitino leave Louisville?
By Eamonn Brennan
There are few basketball matters at stake in the Rick Pitino-Karen Sypher-extortion trial mess. Thus far, most of the coverage of the trial has focused on sordid but ultimately irrelevant details. And, you know, let's not go there. No thanks.
That seems, well, unlikely. There are a few reasons why. (Before we proceed, though, it's important to note that these are speculative, general reasons. Pitino might feel much differently. Who knows?)
For one, there's Pitino. The coach's contract gives him plenty of financial incentive to stay at Louisville -- the school will pay him $2.5 million per year, and he'll receive $3.6 million loyalty bonuses this year and in 2013 if he stays in the job through the length of his deal. (Pitino signed an extension in 2007; it expires in 2013.) Pitino is already a wealthy man, but that's a lot of money to leave behind.
There's also the competitive angle. Again, few know what Pitino's inner monologue is like right now, but if he's as rabidly competitive as he's always been, it's hard to see him walking away from the job -- possibly the 57-year-old's last -- in disgrace and defeat.
And if Pitino doesn't want to leave, Louisville surely wouldn't fire him. They could; Pitino has a morals clause in his contract, and the Sypher mess qualifies. But there's nothing much new here. After all, the core of Pitino's involvement in the Sypher situation was evident last summer, and the school has stuck by the coach this long. Would a series of ugly details revealed in an open courtroom suddenly cause the school to change its mind? Again, that's doubtful.
So, sure, maybe Pitino would resign. Maybe Louisville would take the plunge. Anything's possible. But a basic read of the situation would suggest that's not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. If Pitino does end his Louisville career before 2013, it's likely to have much more to do with wins and losses on the basketball court than dates and revelations in a federal court.