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Once Shining Moment: UofL’s rock bottom is at hand

The University of Louisville athletics department is imploding over the massive FBI sting that rocked much of the college basketball world today.

The best college sports town in America is tone deaf. As UofL awaits an NCAA decision that could wipe out years of glory, two more Cardinal coaches cry out “Hold my beer. We can make it worse with fraud and corruption to enrich agents and financial leeches.”

Federal law enforcement documents reveal references to one, maybe two, University of Louisville assistant coaches negotiating with shoe company Adidas on the landing spot for one or more prized recruits.

A side note: those connected to assistant coach David Padgett say he was shocked to learn of today’s indictments and has zero knowledge of any connection to UofL.

That leaves assistants Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson in the speculative deep fryer.

There’s no wiggle room at the top for the bosses.

There is a real possibility that Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich will both step aside on Wednesday or by the end of the week. Jurich has been at odds with interim President Greg Postel since his appointment last winter after Dr. Neville Pinto bolted for squeaky clean Cincinnati.

In July, Dr. Postel presented Mr. Jurich with a list of tasks. Point #1 was to fire Rick Pitino over the stripper scandal that led to a program beatdown from the NCAA.

Jurich refused Postel’s directive.

Meeting at Vincenzo’s restaurant just prior to Postel’s announcement that the school had reached a new lease agreement with the KFC Yum Center, Jurich was stiff armed from participating in the negotiation. Postel had tightened his grip on a seemingly autonomous athletics program.

Today’s confirmation of Louisville’s involvement in the FBI sting came from Postel, not the athletics department.

Many of the schools affected today are first timers to the scandal walk of shame. UofL’s prior dumpster fire of misbehavior is turning into a potential nuclear blast.

Rick Pitino’s attorney Steve Pence promises that UofL “won’t fire Pitino without a bare knuckle fight.” Pence predicts that Pitino would prevail in a legal struggle over his reported $44 million buyout.

Email within UofL dated September 22, 2017 noted media inquiries about Pitino’s personal service contracts and annual payments from Adidas. At least one media outlet was asking for records dating back to 2001.

Pitino told me today that his Adidas deals go back to his days at the University of Kentucky and that all of that information is public.

Someone obviously tipped off the media to a simmering investigation involving Adidas and coaches at least five days prior to this morning’s FBI arrests.

Can Rick Pitino survive. It’s hard to imagine but he has fought his way through seemingly hopeless battles before.

An answer to the school’s appeal to salvage its 2013 NCAA Championship and 2012 Final Four appearance is expected any day.

Michigan guard Trey Burke (3) walks off the court as confetti falls on Louisville players, including Russ Smith (2), Luke Hancock (11), Stephan Van Treese (44) and Zach Price (25), after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game, Monday, April 8, 2013, in Atlanta. Louisville won 82-76. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

Tom Jurich has steadfastly stood by Rick Pitino, a Hall of Fame coach whose last several recruiting classes have been his best since his Kentucky days in the 90s.

If Jurich goes, a mass exodus of Cardinals coaches could start sending out resumes. Tonight, two other high value UofL head coaches tell me that they have not been contacted by the Postel people to test their interest in staying on board if they suddenly get a new boss.

That’s the only ray of light I can find at this hour.

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AUDIO FROM JUNE 5, 2017: Rick Pitino on the surprise commitment of Brian Bowen

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