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UofL president Postel charges Pitino with pattern of bad behavior in letter outlining ouster

By Russ Brown
Kentucky Today

The University of Louisville took another step toward firing head basketball coach Rick Pitino this week with a letter from interim president Greg Postel informing the coach that two recent scandals show a pattern of “inappropriate behavior” and violations of his employment contact that would justify his dismissal for cause.

Postel’s registered letter to Pitino was dated Tuesday.

Postel’s letter is a necessary step in the process of firing Pitino for cause, because the coach’s contract with the University of Louisville Athletic Association (ULAA) mandates the university present “charges” against him and give him an opportunity to present evidence in his favor.

Pitino’s fate will be decided at a meeting of the ULAA board of directors on Oct. 16, according to the letter, obtained by several media organizations under the Kentucky Open Records Act. Pitino or his representative can appear at the meeting or present their case in writing or on video.

Louisville interim president Greg Postel sent a letter to coach Rick Pitino earlier this week as part of the dismissal process. (Kentucky Today/Tammie Brown)

“The charges will be considered in the context of your full employment history with (U o fL),” the letter noted.

Among the eight charges listed by Postel was that Pitino did not notify U of L that Christian Dawkins, a sports agent who was arrested as part of an FBI investigation into money laundering and fraud in college basketball, visited the school’s campus in late May.

“As someone known to have acted as an ‘agent’ for athletes, the basketball staff should have notified Athletics Compliance,” Postel wrote regarding Dawkins’ visit. “No notification was provided.”

Postel also told Pitino in the letter that, “Your involvement in these recent scandals cannot be considered isolated events. Instead, they are illustrative of a pattern and practice of inappropriate behavior.”

Dawkins, one of the men charged in the federal probe, was at U of L “for purposes related to the basketball program,” according to Postel’s letter. Not informing the compliance staff of his presence was a violation of Pitino’s contract, Postel wrote.

Dawkins was charged in the criminal complaints as one of the men who allegedly participated in a scheme to funnel money from Louisville’s official apparel sponsor, Adidas, to the school’s recruits.

Dawkins, a former AAU coach, was filmed talking about plans to send money to a prospective UofL recruit during an FBI sting operation in a Las Vegas hotel room in late July, according to court records. He was indicted on four counts of wire fraud.

Dawkins’ lawyer, Steve Haney, questioned the scope and timing of the federal case in a statement released Thursday and cautioned against “prematurely” condemning his client “based on speculation, accusations and misinformation.”

“Much has been said about fraud and corruption in college basketball,” Haney said. “Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the reality of the business of college basketball and the NCAA would question the scope, timing and targets of this investigation.”

An FBI agent said in an affidavit that Dawkins had “dealt with coaches at University-6,” or U of L, about recruiting another player who matches the description of freshman Brian Bowen. Bowen was suspended from the team on Sept. 27, a day after the federal government revealed the charges.

The second scandal referred to in the letter involved Pitino assistant Andre McGee paying escorts and strippers to entertain players and recruits in Minardi Hall. Severe NCAA penalties from that case — including vacating the 2013 national championship — are being appealed by the university.

In the letter, Postel accuses Pitino of failing to properly supervise the compliance of his coaching staff and monitor their activities. He added that Pitino also failed to promote an environment of compliance among his staff and did not ensure their cooperation with any U of L, Atlantic Coast Conference or NCAA probe.

The university also charges that Pitino failed to notify U of L’s compliance staff of “red flags” related to the “late surprise commitment” of Bowen, a top prospect who was not recruited by the Cardinals, yet decided to come to the school on June 3.

Pitino’s lawyer, Steve Pence, sent a letter to U of L after he was put on unpaid administrative leave alleging breach of contract. Pence accused the university of failure to provide proper notice or a chance to present evidence when Pitino was suspended.

Three assistants named

In a related, development, the university announced that three U of L basketball staffers have been given temporary assistant coaching roles to help interim head coach David Padgett conduct practice.

Director of basketball operations Michael Bowden, video coordinator Logan Baumann and graduate assistant RJ Evans will be allowed to help Padgett run practices and work with players on the actual practice court in their new roles.

The move come after interim athletics director Vince Tyra placed assistant coach Jordan Fair and associate head coach Kenny Johnson on paid administrative leave. The two coaches, along with suspended head coach Rick Pitino, are under scrutiny for their roles in the FBI investigation into wire fraud and money laundering in college basketball recruiting.

Padgett was appointed interim head coach last Friday, just two days before preseason practice began Sunday. Padgett was the only coach allowed on the floor during the workouts and he said Wednesday that a staff of four coaches was needed for a program at Louisville’s level.

Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports for Kentucky Today. He can be reached at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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