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Damning Text Messages Allege Rick Pitino Knew About Illegal NCAA Activity

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Former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has steadfastly denied knowing about any illegal recruiting activity involving Brian Bowen.

Recently released court records seem to tell a very different story.

Attorneys for the University of Louisville Athletic Association point to text messages between the former coach, sports agent Christian Dawkins and Adidas executive James Gatto as “directly contrary to the evidence obtained thus far in discovery,” the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

There was also a text from Pitino to former assistant Kenny Johnson indicating the coach believed Bowen was being offered cash by another school.

“DePaul was trying to pay Bowen 200k to come there. Crazy world!” Pitino texted to Johnson on June 2, 2017.

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Incidentally, as CBS Sports points out, Bowen publicly pledged his loyalty to Louisville the next day.

Again, on June 2, the agent, Dawkins, texted to Pitino, “Coach…do me a favor. Call big Brian [Bowen’s father]. Everything is good. The Nike guys, Wes, everyone is hating that [Bowen] chose Louisville. We are 100% good. But I just want him to hear from u.”

The Hall of Fame coach’s attorneys had filed for a summary judgement, which would avoid a full-fledged trial. Their argument  was that it was never proven that Pitino had committed NCAA violations.

ULAA attorneys retorted that this was just an effort to prevent the court from uncovering “certain uncomfortable topics that Pitino would like to avoid.”

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Additionally, ULAA made the argument that such a summary was too early, since the discovery process is just underway and Pitino hasn’t even been deposed.

Louisville fired the coach last October, and Pitino is suing the ULAA for breach of contract. He is pursuing the $4.3 million he would have earned annually through June 2026.

He also accuses the school of running a smear campaign to damage his reputation.

While the Cardinals will soon begin preparing for their first season under new coach Chris Mack, it appears as though the specter of their former coach will be looming large for quite some time.

This will be especially true with the former coach’s new book due out next month.

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Pitino may be gone from Louisville, but we get the sense that this may be just beginning.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
Topics of Expertise