There is an extreme and nauseating arrogance that infests the marrow of some coaches. Not all coaches embrace a heightened sense of their own importance, but some do.
They believe the university that employs them would cease to exist without their presence. Many learn through absurd self-centered exploits they are simple employees – generously paid employees, but employees nonetheless.
Rick Pitino is one of those coaches, and his arrogance was in full flower this afternoon as he released a statement and held a press conference to talk about the denial of the NCAA appeal filed by his former employer, the University of Louisville.
Pitino suggested Louisville sue the NCAA because the forfeiture of 138 wins and the 2013 National Championship are too important to surrender without a fight.
This is the same guy who is suing Louisville because he feels his termination for cause was unwarranted.
Let’s roll back the tape to Pitino’s three reported lapses of judgment that reveal him at his most repugnant:
- In 2003, Pitino alleged had sex with a Louisville woman on a table in an Italian Restaurant. She allegedly became pregnant, and extorted Pitino. This is not actionable by the NCAA, but it reeks of the combination of idiocy and hubris that will later doom him.
- From 2011 to 2014, parties with prostitutes are thrown from players and recruits in the dorm where players live. The hookers are paid for by the director of basketball operations. This is why Louisville is losing 138 wins and a title. These are paper penalties that bruise the massive egos of coaches like Pitino, but leaves the university and current players unblemished. In full-on imbecile mode, Pitino decried the penance and encouraged Louisville to sue the NCAA to recover the title and wins. The truth is the school is thrilled with the penalty as revisionist history consequences only attack the coach’s super-inflated ego.
- On May 27th and June 1st of last year, Pitino and Adidas executive James Gatto had phone conversations that allegedly included the request of a $100K payment to be made by Adidas to the father of recruit Brian Bowen. That Pitino would be both so audacious and stupid to involve himself in the negotiation is the shock here, although maybe it shouldn’t be. The penalty for this serious lapse is yet to be determined.
Pitino has been allowed to get away with whatever he liked for so long that maybe he bought into his own impervious mythology.
Coaches can get that way, but they shouldn’t.
Paid grotesque amounts of money for teaching a silly game to college students, coaches are uniquely susceptible to inflated egos because they inhabit a fantasy world.
They are excused for behavioral lapses because they win games, fill arenas, and provide vast resources for universities that crave more, more, and more.
Pitino and his ilk aren’t bad men. They are products of a twisted world where success is only determined by winning and money, and where the money has nowhere to go but into their pockets and those who either assist or manage their programs.
They are like children who have never felt bona fide consequence for drifting morality. No one holds them accountable because no one wants to incur their wrath.
Coaching, sadly, is a bottom line business, and if that bottom line is enhanced by hookers and cash, what the hell, those crimes are victimless, aren’t they?
For the university, if the only punishment is a little whiteout on a few pages of the record book, why manage the coach at all. Win games, hang banners, cash checks, and when the shit hits the fan – act self-righteous while firing the coach.,
So, full of false contrition and fury, Pitino stood today flanked by his attorney to educate, admonish, and obfuscate. He said his heart breaks for players and fans robbed of a championship by the NCAA, without realizing he did it to them just as he had done it for them.
Humility has a way of finding and correcting arrogance.
If there is any joy in these various sordid episodes, it’s that Pitino may find a better version of himself through this tumult.
And so it will be for all coaches who believe the hype.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.