Rick Pitino, the former head basketball coach a the University of Louisville, has sued the school for $37.6 million, claiming the university breached his contract by placing him on unpaid administrative leave without notice and then firing him last month with “no legally justified cause.”
Back in October of 2017, Pitino was fired following an FBI investigation into bribery and fraud in college basketball related to the steering of recruits to Adidas, sports agents and financial advisers. While Pitino claims he was unaware of any alleged payment from a Cardinals assistant to the family of Brian Bowen during the recruiting process, he was fired nonetheless.
“(Pitino) had no part whatsover in any scheme to pay the family of a UL recruit, or to otherwise improperly provide benefits to any recruit, as an inducement to join the basketball program,” said Steve Pence, Pitino’s lawyer, said in a statement.
Furthermore, following the FBI investigation, the University of Louisville announced that that Bowen, a freshman, will not be allowed to play for the school but can transfer to another if he wants.
The lawsuit states that the board’s actions violated his employment contract in two ways — first, during his suspension in September and again when he was fired in October.
In September, Pitino was “effectively fired” without proper notice, according to the lawsuit. The coach was placed on unpaid leave, locked out of his office and had access to his university email blocked. The lawsuit also alleges the university had no justification to fire Pitino “for cause” in October and failed to fix the breach within 30 days despite being notified of the breach by the coach. Claims made in a lawsuit represent only one side of the case.
Pitino is seeking $4.3 million a year — the value of his contract — from the date of the school’s last payment through its end in June 2026, or the value of his actual losses, which includes his personal Adidas contract. Adidas terminated its personal services contract with Pitino after he was fired. Pitino also filed a federal lawsuit against Adidas in October, alleging that the company deliberately damaged his reputation. The apparel company asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed this week.
John Karman, a spokesman for the University of Louisville, said the university is aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment due to university policy.