Pitino discusses his future; reflects on season

Pitino discusses his future; reflects on season
The University of Louisville men's basketball team finished its season with a disappointing 22-point loss at Virginia on Saturday night. The attention now focuses on head coach Rick Pitino and the result of the NCAA investigation. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The University of Louisville men's basketball team finished its season with a disappointing 22-point loss at Virginia on Saturday night.

With its conclusion, the attention now focuses on head coach Rick Pitino and the result of the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program.

After Saturday's game, Pitino first joked about his future plans.

"I spoke to (Golden State Warriors coach) Steve Kerr today for the first time in a while," he said. "I said, 'Look, I'd really like to coach Steph Curry, can you step down next year?' and he said he would let me have the reigns for one year."

He followed that quip, though, by reflecting on the season.

"We handled adversity with as much class as can possibly be held," Pitino said.

He called the 23-8 campaign and fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference a "great year" and pointed to the pair of Virginia losses as two of the few disappointments.

Before the season began, the program faced allegations that a former staffer paid Katina Powell, a self-proclaimed madam, $10,000 to provide strippers and prostitutes for on-campus parties involving players and recruits.

After Saturday's game, fifth-year transfer Damion Lee talked about the team's response to the firestorm caused by the release of Powell's book, Breaking Cardinal Rules.

"When this whole thing first broke with the allegations, I made sure I sent a text to the team," Lee said. "(It said) 'Hey, don't believe anything. It doesn't matter what goes on, we've got to focus on basketball, and that's the only thing that we can do.'"

The university admitted at least some wrongdoing, when UofL president James Ramsey announced a self-imposed postseason ban last month.

"People did the wrong things and this team had to pay the price for that," Pitino said.

During a heated board of trustees meeting last week Dr. Emily Bingham expressed frustration at the allegations.

"In a basketball program already embarrassed by the sexual misconduct of its coach, egregious alleged sexual misconduct by employees and players was never met with clear forceful condemnation from the president," she said.

Pitino said Saturday that Bingham had reached out and apologized after he posted on his blog that she should focus on the dysfunctional board.

Saturday, board chair Larry Benz issued support for Pitino saying: "I am deeply convinced that the NCAA findings will clear Coach Rick Pitino of any knowledge of the alleged scandal. Our genuine hope is that Coach Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants."

It appears that only Pitino knows how long that will be.

"I intended on coming back every year for the last 15 years, but I say I've got to take some time to think about, (asking myself) 'Did you have fun? Do you want to continue doing it? Are you in good health?' You know, all the things a coach should say at my age at the end of a year," the 63-year-old Pitino said. "I'd love to coach until I'm 83."

The NCAA hasn't given any sort of timeline on when its investigation could be completed.

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