Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fire Rick Pitino

The University of Louisville should act quickly to terminate Rick Pitino as the university's basketball coach. Why? To prevent sports commentators like Lachlan McLean from further embarrassing themselves by saying completely idiotic things.

This must happen now, before these people completely ruin their credibility and drive away the sensible people from their audience.

It was revealed late Tuesday that Pitino had had a sexual relationship with Karen Sypher, a woman who had tried to extort money from him, and who, when the extortion attempt was reported by Pitino to the FBI, charged that Pitino had had forced her into involuntary sex. Little was said about what Pitino actually did until the Courier-Journal revealed that, according to the police report, Pitino admitted to police of having had "consensual sex" with Sypher at Porcini's Restaurant. Sypher later told Pitino she was going to have an abortion but didn't have health insurance. So Pitino paid her $3,000 to have the abortion.

Porcini's?!!! I've been to Porcini's. In fact, not only have I been there, but I walk right by the place two or three times a week. Now think about this: a famous coach somehow has an intimate sexual encounter at a public restaurant. Where is everyone while all this is going on? Where are his assistants? Well, we know that one:
Vinnie Tatum, an executive assistant to Pitino, told the FBI that he didn't see what happened but heard “only the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter,” according to Abbott's report.
And where was this taking place? In the main serving area? We're thinking not. There are a lot of windows around. The kitchen? Ick. Where were the cooks? Where were the dishwashers? Where were the waitresses? Where was the owner? Just how many people did Pitino compromise? Maybe the man is a good customer and just let him have the run of the place. Maybe when the last shift has ended they leave him with the key and tell him to lock the doors when he leaves.

I'm thinking that Porcini's is just a little less attractive as a dining destination now that we know that U of L coaches are conducting sexual trysts there. On the other hand, if the restaurant is like a lot of the storefronts along Frankfort Road, it has a sign in the window that says, "Keep Louisville weird." Maybe it will improve their business. It's a crazy world.

The extortion attempt has been public knowledge for some time, and no one has had any illusions about Sypher's character. But this is the first time Pitino's role in the whole illicit thing has been reported. So what was McLean's reaction? To go on a tirade about Sypher's lack of credibility and lament the fact that Pitino's name has been dragged through the mud.

I normally like Lachlan McLean, but I am having trouble figuring out why you would go on a tirade about this woman's credibility when the mud that was just revealed was of Pitino's own making. In fact, forget the lovefest at Porcini's, Tuesday night's Sports Talk 84 spun off into a ridiculous orgy of excuse making, complete with laments about "Poor Rick" for having to go through all this.

Poor Rick?

Yes, Poor Rick. You know who we mean: The guy who suffers under a $2,500,000 annual salary (plus bonuses). The guy who has to endure public adulation from basketball fans on a daily basis. The guy who can't even find a private place to have his sexual encounters.

That Poor Rick.

This is the kind of nonsense that McLean would normally be ridiculing for the whole three hours of his nightly show. So, please, can we just cut the guy a big check and send him packing before we have to endure more of this? Pitino, I mean, not Lach.

Oh, and did we mention the other reason why Pitino should be fired? Has anyone noticed the kinds of actions that constitute grounds for disciplinary action of college athletes?

College athletes are suspended, temporarily or indefinitely, and kicked off teams for their behavior off the field on a regular basis. Most of these result from unnamed "violations of team rules," while others are made public. The infractions that constitute grounds for these actions include behavior such as failing drug tests (Ryan Perrilloux, LeMarcus Coker), credit card fraud (Jamal Hornsby), marijuana possession (Ty Erving, Jack Johnson, Gerald Jones, Ahmad Page), possession of alcohol (Fred Munzenmaier), underage drinking (Steve Garcia, Heath Bachelor, Zachary Brindise), bar fights (Brick Lewis, Dorian Davis, Antonio Wardlow), disorderly conduct (Mike Newton, Anthony Parker), and carrying a concealed weapon (Preston Parker).

These are the standards we apply to student athletes. Should the standards for the coaches we hire and pay to lead these athletes be higher or lower?

So here's the questions for the supporters of "Poor Rick": Are any of the infractions we routinely employ as grounds for kicking student athletes off the team as reprehensible as bankrolling the termination of the life of a child you helped bring into the world in the first place in order that you wouldn't be publicly embarrassed?

I didn't think so.

U of L Athletic Director Rick Jurich has already said Pitino's job is not in danger. And isn't this what we've come to expect from U of L? President James Ramsey was caught lying to a legislative committee two years ago and suffered no consequences. Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willinganz presided over the theft of tens of thousands of dollars in federal grant money in the education department chairman James Ramsey case and never even got their hands slapped.

How can Pitino have any credibility when it comes to team discipline when the university has let him off the hook for a far great offense than any of them will likely ever commit?

Fire him.

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