Career Retrospective: Rick Pitino

Updated: Sep. 27, 2017 at 1:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)  - When Rick Pitino was signed in 2001, no one could have predicted his being place on leave amid a flurry of controversy 16 years later.

When he signed at the University of Louisville, Pitino looked poised to build on the foundation built by Cardinal legend Denny Crum. He entered the school with a successful college coaching career behind him and already had a national championship to his credit.

His official page on the university's athletics website begins:

"When the University of Louisville went looking for its first new men's basketball coach in 30 years just 12 years ago, it didn't just get the best person available. The Cardinals got arguably the best person, period."

But after a landmark prostitution scandal that rocked the program and the sport at large, Pitino's legacy is forever tarnished. Add in a second scandal just announced with Tuesday's bombshell FBI cash-for-talent investigation, and it might surprise some that Interim President Dr. Greg Postel didn't fire Pitino outright.

Pitino has a 416-143 record in his 16 seasons at UofL. The Cardinals reached the NCAA Tournament 13 of the last 15 years.

Louisville is among 16 programs in the nation that have won at least 70 percent of its games over the last 16 years. Louisville has a .748 winning percentage in Pitino's tenure, which was sixth best in the nation during that time.

He was the first head coach to win a national championship at two schools, Louisville in 2013 and Kentucky in 1996. He's largely credited with resuscitating a UK program that was on probation when he arrived in 1989.

But before then, Pitino already had turned heads. He led upstart Providence on a surprising Final Four run in 1987 in just his second year, prompting attention from the NBA. The New York Knicks lured him away from the college game, but his two full seasons there were unforgettable.

He landed in Lexington and enjoyed eight hugely successful seasons leading the Wildcats, the last three of which ended in national championship games. Along the way, he coached Kentucky in arguably the most memorable NCAA Tournament game ever played - the overtime classic against Duke in the 1992 East Region final.

Before arriving in Louisville in 2001, Pitino spent four less-than-stellar seasons back in the NBA, leaving the Boston Celtics under heavy criticism.

Overall, Pitino has won at least 20 games in a season on 25 occasions, ranking him fifth among active coaches in 20-win seasons and 11th overall.

Pitino is the only coach to win both regular season and tournament championships in five different conferences, including three while at Louisville.

UofL is 180-10 over the last 16 seasons under Pitino when scoring 80 or more points (11-1 this year, 10-0 in 2015-16, 11-0 in 2014-15).

"Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer." That's the quote prominently displayed on Pitino's website.

But in his time at UofL, its arguable the quality of his stock has diminished after a final several seasons mired in scandals surrounding escorts and shoe companies.

In his most recent "Summer Update" on, Pitino seemed optimistic about the days and months to come.

"With our length and athleticism, this should be a fun season for all and recruiting continues to be going well," Pitino said.

Now his future, and the future of the program, are surrounded by questions.

+ Jurich relieved of his duties as UofL AD
+ Career Retrospective: Tom Jurich
+ Report: Harvest Homecoming cancels Pitino visit
+ Pitino, Adidas issue statements following FBI bombshell
+ Billy Reed: Changes required to rebuild reputation of 'University-6'
+ UofL students, fans brace as another scandal hits
+ Pitino issues statement on FBI probe into NCAA bribery claims
Money: What UofL scandal could mean for KFC YUM! Center
Sportswriter, radio host sound off on UofL scandal

+ Pitino dodges questions after leaving Postel's office
+ AD Tom Jurich leaves Grawemeyer Hall
Sportswriter, radio host sound off on UofL scandal

+ NCAA expert Dr. David Ridpath weighs in on Adidas scandal
+ How basketball bribes allegedly worked at UofL, who was involved
+ Pitino weighs in on shoe wars back in 2014
+ Pitino in 2014 says UofL 'makes a lot of money through Adidas'
Who is UofL freshman Brian Bowen?
+ What we know about the FBI's investigation into UofL bribery claims
+ UofL fans fearing the worst
Kent Taylor discusses FBI bribery scandal involving UofL with local sports experts

Copyright 2017 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.