Louisville coach Rick Pitino offered support Saturday for embattled university president James Ramsey, referring to a “broken” system for punishing college sports programs.
Pitino addressed the media after the 19th-ranked Cardinals’ victory Saturday over Boston College, just more than 24 hours after the school announced a self-imposed one-year postseason ban amid the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into an alleged recruiting scandal.
Pitino said that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich made the final decision to impose the penalty and that Ramsey approved the sanction.
“Let me say this — the system is broken,” Pitino said. “Please, nobody blame Dr. Ramsey. Tom Jurich made this decision.”
The Cardinals improved their record to 19-4 with Saturday’s victory, including 8-2 in ACC play, and would have been a lock to reach the NCAA tournament this season.
Ramsey has been the target of widespread fan criticism in the wake of the Friday’s announcement. A banner that read “Ramsey is a Coward” recently was placed outside Patrick O’Shea’s, a restaurant in downtown Louisville.
But Pitino urged fans to support Ramsey, saying he doesn’t deserve the criticism.
“He’s taken enough heat from enough places,” he said. “He’s done a lot for our university. He doesn’t deserve this.”
Pitino also recommended the NCAA adopt a system of financial punishment to sanction programs. He suggested that programs found to be in violation should pay $10 million in fines, while the coach overseeing the program in question should be fined 50 percent of his salary.
“We should be penalized, no question about it. But not this team,” he said. “I believe we should be hit with a heavy, heavy financial fine. … Where you really hit a university is their wallet. Where you really hurt a coach is his wallet.”
Pitino reiterated that he thought Jurich should have been involved in the school’s internal investigation, calling him “the best athletic director in all of athletics.”
“If Tom had been in on the [investigation] meetings, this would’ve happened a month and a half ago,” Pitino said.
In a book published last year, Katina Powell — a self-described former escort — alleged that Andre McGee, a former men’s basketball staffer at Louisville, hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players at Billy Minardi Hall, an on-campus dorm.
Powell also told Outside The Lines that she brought roughly two dozen women to the dorm from 2010 to 2014 and that five or six of the women had sex for money with former Louisville players, active players or recruits who were visiting the campus. Five former players and recruits also told OTL that they attended parties that included strippers paid for by McGee.