Former Louisville Cardinals’ head basketball coach Rick Pitino released a statement today at the law firm Greenberg Traurig in Manhattan, to discuss the NCAA’s ruling that will force the Cardinals to take down their 2013 national championship banner.
Pitino, who was fired in October, said the ruling was “unjust.”
RELATED: NCAA Rules Louisville Must Vacate 2013 National Championship
The penalties are the result an investigation that included allegations that a former Louisville staff member arranged for escorts to attend parties with players and recruits at an on-campus dormitory from 2011 to 2015, according to ESPN. During today’s press conference, Pitino maintained his innocence and said he had no knowledge the “reprehensible things” that took place at the University. That said, he also took responsibility for the people he hired.
“I had no knowledge the reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory,” he said, per ESPN. “If I hired the wrong people at times, I take full ownership and responsibility for everyone I’ve hired. I’ve hired some awfully great ones.”
“In 40 years coaching, I have never been involved, directly or indirectly, in any effort to pay any money or extend any improper benefit to any recruit or recruit’s family members or representatives.”
The University Louisville men’s basketball team must vacate a total 123 wins, including its 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four appearance. Pitino is hoping Louisville’s current board trustees will challenge the decision.
“How do you take down a championship? They’ve earned it,” he said. “You need to get an injunction. The NCAA, they have total autonomy. I’m sure Notre Dame is not going to let it happen, and neither should the University Louisville, in my opinion. I wish I could do it. Unfortunately, I’m defenseless.”
Pitino was also asked whether he’s had any discussions with NBA teams or college programs about getting back into coaching. “I have not,” he said, per ESPN. “I miss it. I miss every minute player development, every minute scouting and game-planning to beat an opponent, I miss every minute every timeout. But what the NCAA did, what this committee did, hurts. And it takes time to get over that hurt.