EXCLUSIVE: Pitino's attorney responds to firing by UofL

EXCLUSIVE: Pitino's attorney responds to firing by UofL
Rick Pitino was fired Monday.
WAVE 3 News had an exclusive one-on-one interview with Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence, Monday evening. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
WAVE 3 News had an exclusive one-on-one interview with Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence, Monday evening. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Rick Pitino's attorney says UofL acted too quickly in firing the coach Monday.

Attorney Steve Pence sat down exclusively with WAVE 3 News after the decision from the UofL Athletics Association.

"It's obviously disappointing but it wasn't unexpected," Pence said. "It looked like the decision was made when we walked in."

For more than an hour, Pence presented reasons to the board for why Pitino shouldn't be let go.

Pence argued that under Pitino's contract at the time, he wasn't responsible for the actions of assistants during the Katina Powell prostitution scandal and that even the university was appealing the facts and punishments from the NCAA in that case.

Pence said the entire reason for letting Pitino go rested on still-unfounded claims from the FBI.

"The coach didn't know. He couldn't have known," Pence said. "We really are putting everything on this one statement from this one guy Dawkins, who we know is a con."

He added there's nothing in the FBI report to show Pitino knew of any wrongdoing.

"A guy says he's influential with Adidas," Pence said. "Ok, I don't think that's surprising to anybody."

After the decision, interim president Greg Postel shrugged off the idea of a lawsuit.

"That's always a possibility," Postel said. "Universities have a lot of lawsuits related to personnel matters."

"That's unfortunate that Dr. Postel would take that so cavalierly," Pence said. "The coach has a significant amount due to him under his contract. I think the university is taking a great risk here."

Postel said the ULAA took time to review Pence's argument and presentation.

"These aren't easy decisions but we have to do what's in the best interest of the university," he said.

"That really is not the issue for them today. It's, 'Did they have cause under the contract?'" Pence said. "You can always terminate a coach. We've terminated them here before but you don't do it like this."

He said the decision came too quickly.

"When there is a rush to judgment like this, you're apt to make mistakes," Pence said.

Postel argued the ULAA had all the information it needed.

"Waiting a week or two really isn't going to change anything," Postel said.

Pence wouldn't say the word lawsuit but danced around it.

"There will be a next step is all I can tell you," Pence said. "The university has put us in the position of daring us to enforce the contract and that's unfortunate."

Pitino's contract could have more than $40 million left on it.

Adidas put out a statement Monday saying it has also canceled its personal services deal with Pitino.

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