In new book, Pitino calls NCAA investigation a ‘whitewash’

Updated: Sep. 3, 2018 at 1:23 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In his tell-all book that hit bookstores Tuesday, former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino lays out his side of the story in the wake of the federal bribery investigation that toppled his program.

Rick Pitino is full of criticism in his book, as he targets everyone he believes had a hand in his downfall -- especially the NCAA.

In describing the decision that cost UofL its 2013 national championship, Pitino called the process a “whitewash” and said the NCAA “piled on.”

Pitino was suspended for the first five games of the 2017-18 season, but he calls the punishment only “a hard slap on the wrist.”

“It was a paltry sentence,” Pitino wrote. “The Committee on Infractions was essentially admitting I knew nothing about what Andre McGee was doing (in the Katina Powell scandal). If there was a shred of evidence or even a suggestion that I was somehow complicit...the committee would have had me drawn and quartered."

Pitino also wrote about Gov. Matt Bevin:

“Kentucky governor Matt Bevin is much like Donald Trump, and whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you. One noticeable difference between Bevin and Trump is that the governor comes across as a religious zealot with a puritanical streak.”

In one chapter of the book, Pitino described a “theory” suggesting Bevin sought political favor from University of Kentucky supporters by replacing the UofL Board of Trustees:

“Bevin’s University of Kentucky-loving associates were driven by jealousy of a rival program becoming too successful and popular, and urged the governor to act – and send a silent message to Wildcat supporters across the commonwealth.”

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The memoir also provides a glimpse into the university’s tumultuous relationship with disgraced pizza mogul John Schnatter, who sat on the university’s Board of Trustees.

"Pitino: My Story" hits shelves Sept. 4.
"Pitino: My Story" hits shelves Sept. 4.(Diversion Books)

Pitino says Schnatter was “unhinged” at a meeting where the coach was present to provide the board with an action plan following a bevy of NCAA violations related to the Katina Powell sex scandal.

Pitino wrote:

"Schnatter joined the proceedings via video conference. He started ranting about how the NCAA had charged my program with seventeen Level 1 violations, which of course wasn’t even close to the truth. We were hit with three Level 1 violations and a Level 2 violation. Then he said: ‘I have a problem with coaches coming to trustees meetings. What’s next, the women’s volleyball coach coming in there?’

"That was a pretty sexist remark. But his entire attitude was disrespectful and nasty.

“He kept telling us, ‘I’m here with Peyton.’ He mentioned it a number of times. At first, I couldn’t figure it out, because when I hear the name Peyton, I immediately think of my great Cardinal guard Peyton Siva, and I couldn’t imagine the two of them hanging out. Then Schnatter finally indicated the Peyton in question was Peyton Manning. His behavior was bizarre and Tom (Jurich) and I looked at each other, as Schnatter kept walking in and out of the video conference screen. He seemed unhinged. We later found out that appearing at a meeting via video conferencing was a violation of board regulations. But why should that matter to John Schnatter?”

This statement was released on behalf of Schnatter:

“The circumstances surrounding the termination of Rick Pitino as the head basketball coach at the University of Louisville are well known and have already been extensively reported by the news media. Mr. Schnatter wishes Mr. Pitino the best in his future endeavors.”

Pitino was fired in October of 2017 after a sweeping federal investigation uncovered a possible pay-for-play arrangement between the university, Adidas and recruits.

In his book, Pitino continues to deny any wrongdoing.

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