The chairman of the board of trustees at Louisville said Friday night that embattled coach Rick Pitino has his and the board’s support.
“Our genuine hope is that Coach Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants,” board chair Larry Benz said in a statement.
Benz’s statement read like a direct rebuttal to one made earlier this week by another Louisville board member. In explaining her vote of no confidence for university president James Ramsey, who is embroiled in his own controversy unrelated to the athletics department, Leslie Bingham wrote in a letter to the Louisville Courier-Journal: “In a basketball program already embarrassed by the sexual misconduct of its coach, egregious alleged sexual misconduct by employees and players was never met with clear, forceful condemnation from the president. Waiting for years for NCAA judgment is unacceptable.”
Benz, however, went on to affirm what Pitino has claimed all along — that he had no knowledge of the sex parties in the team’s dormitory as alleged by a former escort in a book.
“I am deeply convinced that the NCAA findings will clear Rick Pitino of any knowledge of the alleged scandal,” Benz wrote.
Since news of the scandal broke and Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban, the Hall of Fame coach’s job security and future at Louisville has been the subject of scrutiny and speculation. The Cardinals will play their final game of the season Saturday at Virginia.
Pitino told ESPN.com’s Ian O’Connor that it is “highly likely” that he will return to coach the Cardinals next year, but the board and others in charge at Louisville had been noticeably quiet.
“We join our Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, in our complete support of him,” Benz said.