LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) -Calling it a mutual walk away, Thursday, the University of Louisville Athletic Association and former head basketball coach Rick Pitino reached a settlement, in what could have been a lengthy legal battle.
Pitino who was fired, had been suing for the money that was left on his contract, nearly $40 million. Now, the settlement will show he resigned.
Athletic Director Vince Tyra said of the deal that still needs court approval.
“No matter how we felt about the claim, even from day one, you still have to carry somewhat of a contingent of liability on the University’s books and I think the ability to remove that, I think bodes well, I think across campus,” Tyra said.
“Today, I move on to a new chapter in my life," Pitino said in a statement. "Against my lawyer’s advice I’m dropping my lawsuit with ULAA. I am very proud of the many accomplishments my teams achieved at Louisville. I’m so thankful and honored to coach such dedicated athletes. I’m also disappointed in how it ended. But as head coach I am held responsible for the actions of all team members.”
The news that arrived on Pitino’s 67th birthday, came as a stunner to people across the Commonwealth.
“We’re looking at the release and I’m like no monetary value?,” 24/7 Sports and WAVE 3 News Contributor Jody Demling said of the announcement.
Not a penny more for Rick Pitino. His newly defined resignation from UofL, not firing, is the $40 million sticker shock talk of the town.
Kentucky Sports Radio Host Matt Jones asked near the beginning of his show, "Would you like to know the figure that he [Pitino] ended up with? Zero dollars,” he said.
UofL student Cora Mills said, “To me it doesn’t make sense, he’s suing for so much money and then he’s like oh no, I’m fine with no money?”
Demling says it couldn’t be better for UofL.
“To have that [legal battle] gone, is huge for Vince Tyra and this athletic department to move forward.”
So what makes Pitino, who has been criticized for a larger than life ego, walk away?
“Their job is to make you look as bad as they possibly can,” said ESPN 680 radio host Bob Valvano.
Valvano has worked with Pitino and the University. He said, the bottom line is, the University has to protect the school and will fight back.
“So, why did Rick do it at the beginning?” Valvano asked his listeners of Pitino filing suit. “Because I think that’s how he [Pitino] felt: I’m so wronged, look what I’ve done for this university and look at all the money our program has generated.”
Last week’s mediation at the Federal Courthouse in Louisville may have changed everything for Pitino. It started with the coach walking in with a smile saying, “I’ll go in there with a positive attitude.”
But it ended with Pitino walking out quickly to a car saying, "I'm not allowed to comment on anything."
Valvano believes the mediation got ugly, he’s not alone. Student Caleb Trodglen said he believes UofL Lawyers threatened something like: “Rick, we have you dead in your tracks.”
Valvano believes Pitino realized all the old baggage, from the Karen Sypher tryst that led to Pitino being extorted, the stripper scandal and the FBI pay for play investigation which happened on his watch, would all haunt him and his family again.
Valvano said, "I really believe, yes, he wants to coach again."
He and others think Pitino wants his life back a little, coaching somewhere again in the U.S. surrounded by friends, like it used to be.
While no one thought Pitino would get the nearly $40 million he was asking for, Demling and others thought he would get something. But now making a deal, he’s clear to start a new job right away and put this behind him. Pitino’s friend Ron Carmicle told WAVE 3 News, Pitino spent his birthday playing golf in New York and is ready to move on with his life.