By Jay Mariotti
The details simply are too scandalous and close-to-home for the University of Louisville to forgive Rick Pitino and allow him to carry on.
I mean, did it ever occur to the man to get a room? Who has sex in a restaurant after hours, other than maybe college-age bartenders and waitresses? What coach actually lets the restaurant owner give him the keys and lock the doors when he's finished?
Did it occur to Pitino that Porcini might have had a surveillance camera, which could have turned the love romp into the first mass-circulated sex tape featuring a national-title-winning coach?
And how humiliating that Pitino's former executive assistant, Vinnie Tatum, testified to the FBI that he was waiting at the restaurant to serve as a designated driver — the coach had been drinking — when he heard "the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter."
Somehow, I don't think UCLA had to worry about such problems when John Wooden was coaching.
By Tim Dahlberg
The Associated Press
Say what you will about Bobby Knight, but this wouldn't happen on his watch. He might throw a few chairs in a restaurant, but he wouldn't be having sex on top of one.
Rick Pitino's apologists — and there are many — will surely try to spin the whole sordid mess and make it all about Karen Sypher. She, after all, waited six years to bring up a claim of rape to police.
Just how far they get may determine how long Pitino stays at Louisville. Read her police interview and she sounds a lot more together than some have made her out to be, but there will probably be a trial on the extortion charges and new details will just as likely emerge about both her and Pitino.
Ultimately, the people in Louisville will decide for themselves whether winning means more than anything else. So will parents of recruits, who will be faced with decisions of their own about leaving their sons in the care of a man whose moral compass went awry.
They can only hope that Pitino has now learned a few lessons of his own.
By Dick Weiss
New York Daily News
Rick Pitino is a great coaching mind who revolutionized college basketball in the modern era with his use of the three-point shot. He took three schools — Providence, Kentucky and Louisville — to the Final Four and coached Kentucky to the national championship in 1996.
It is obvious now he is not about to resign, as some had speculated.
If the University of Louisville is willing to put its reputation on the line and keep him on, fine. Pitino has the strong backing of Athletics Director Tom Jurich. But be warned, this is going to get ugly. Pitino will not be able to spin this story, which will be headline news until the end of a trial that has not even been scheduled yet.
By Michael Wilbon
The Washington Post
If you are looking to read a rant that results in the suggestion that Pitino should resign or be fired, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Will his status as coach-icon be diminished in some substantial way?
Perhaps temporarily. Will it be tough to make motivational speeches or keep those photos with the pope in the basketball program's media guide?
Yes, absolutely. Any time you willingly link yourself to religion then have to confess to this kind of sordid episode, you look like a hypocrite. Will his professional reputation take a hit? Probably not.
Professionally, Pitino is a coach. And professionally he'll be judged, overwhelmingly, by other men who were coaches or are coaches or make a living assessing performance in the arena of basketball. And these men, by and large, don't care about what Pitino did with Sypher in a restaurant.
This notion that the fallout will kill Pitino's recruiting is nonsense, too. Coaches don't persuade kids to come to their schools anymore by sitting with the kid's mama and daddy in the living room. If that happens at all anymore, it does so after the coach has wooed an AAU coach and at least one street agent who have more to do with the kid's basketball life than either parent. Certainly, AAU coaches and street agents couldn't give a damn about the recruiter's sexual preferences.
Of course the whole ordeal is embarrassing, especially to Pitino's wife and children, and it's something that will dog him at certain stops along the road. But these things never sting for as long as they used to, not if you're Bill Clinton or Kobe Bryant or Jon Gosselin or Josh Hamilton or Rick Pitino.
If I sound like a cynic, it's because I've become one when it comes to certain topics, like steroids or personal scandal. I'm desensitized to them. The first time's a stunner, the 75th merits a yawn.
By Christine Brennan
After all this, how does Rick Pitino ever again go into a recruit's home, look the player's mother in the eye and tell her with a straight face that he'll watch over her son's education and moral well-being?
How does Pitino ever punish a player for violating a team rule? How does he offer life lessons to his players? How does he walk onto a stage to give one of his patented motivational speeches without being laughed right off of it?
Basically, how does Rick Pitino continue being Rick Pitino, especially when we're not entirely certain just who that person is anymore?
By Jeff Jacobs
Rick Pitino never was going to be Larry Eustachy at Iowa State or Mike Price at Alabama. He has won too many games, won too many hearts at Kentucky and Louisville to be fired.
In a state where basketball is a religion, he has produced Final Fours, one national title and forever holds winters of remarkable promise.
Through coaching talent, charisma and unrelenting competitiveness, he has built a cult of personality familiar in places where college sports reign.
On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took one look at the travesty of a 24-day jail term for killing a man while driving drunk. He brought down the hammer on Donte Stallworth: One year's suspension without pay. It was justice swift and confident. Pitino will be examined through a much different prism.
He's an untouchable.
Until he starts losing.