Ousted Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is “Coach-2” as referred to in the criminal complaint released Tuesday by the Justice Department, according to several outlets, including CBS News, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal.
If true, that would put Pitino in the middle of the investigation as a known party to investigators. In public statements, Pitino has denied any knowledge of the activity described in the federal complaint.
Interim Louisville President Gregory Postel said Thursday that the university has been given enough information to determine who “Coach-1” and “Coach-2” are, but could not name them citing the ongoing federal investigation.
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“Coach-2” is referred to in the criminal complaint a number of times, coming up in accounts of a July 27 meeting between two named defendants, Christian Dawkins and Jonathan Brad Augustine, and an unnamed “Coach-1,” described as an assistant from “University-6,” believed to be the University of Louisville.
The most damning allegation in the complaint says “Dawkins then said he had spoken with Coach-2 about getting additional money for Player-10’s family and informed Coach-2 that ‘I need you to call Jim Gatto, (the defendant) who’s the head of everything’ at Company 1’s basketball program.”
Gatto is the Adidas (Company-1) basketball executive named as a defendant in the complaint. “Player-10” is believed to be Louisville freshman Brian Bowen. Louisville said Wednesday it removed a player from all team activities, but did not name him as Bowen.
In the complaint, Augustine is said to have stated about another player that “he expected Company-1 to fund at least a portion of future payments to Player-11 and/or his family, adding that ‘all (Coach-2 has to do) is pick up the phone and call somebody, (and say) these are my guys, they’re taking care of us.’”
When discussing how to ensure “Player-11” signed with Dawkins upon entering the NBA, “Coach-1 explained that ‘(Coach-2) is not a guy to have his own agent already set up’ so that it would fall upon Coach-1 and another assistant coach at University-6 to steer the athletes to certain advisers.”
Later in the complaint, someone with a phone number used by “Coach-2” is said to have had two conversations with Gatto “on or about May 27” and then another conversation on June 1. “Two days later, on or about June 3, 2017, Player-10 (believed to be Bowen) officially committed to University-6 in return for the commitment by Gatto and Company-1 to pay $100,000 to his family,” the complaint states.
Pitino and Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave Wednesday in the wake of the federal investigation. It is expected they will both be fired in accordance with the due process in their contracts.
When asked Thursday about whether university officials know who “Coach-1” and “Coach-2,” are, Postel said, “We believe that we know, yes. They’ve given us enough information that we can make that determination.”
But Postel would not confirm media reports that “Coach-2” is Pitino.
“I think when (investigators are) prepared, they will probably continue to amend their documents and gradually replace some of the numbers with actual names,” Postel said. “But it’s not our position to do that, because they are their documents.”
Postel said the university is still aiming to name interim leaders for the men’s basketball and athletics departments in the next day, but declined to call the efforts a search stating that Pitino and Jurich had not been fired.
In response to a question about Auburn University’s offer to refund men’s basketball season tickets over one of its coach’s alleged role in the corruption case, Postel said Louisville had not considered that.
“We’re intending to have a robust men’s basketball season,” Postel said. “I don’t see why that would not be the case. We have an excellent group of players, and they’re the ones that play the game, so I don’t know why we wouldn’t have a basketball season.”
Postel also said the university had not yet begun its own investigation into the federal allegations.
“We’re going to seek guidance as to the appropriate way to do that, so that we do it in accord with the wishes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Postel said.