Rick Pitino’s new book “Pitino: My Story” hit book stores Tuesday, and while it might not offer much in revelatory insights into the college basketball scandal that led to his firing, it does offer some interesting details, according to Louisville and national media.
“I read his story, though there was little need,” said WDRB.com’s Eric Crawford in a post Tuesday morning. “I wrote his previous book with him. I’ve followed every public statement he’s given since these events. There are some new details about old events. I’m not sure I’d classify anything as a “bombshell.”
Pitino plays the victim, predictably, says the Courier Journal’s Tim Sullivan.
“Pitino’s claims of innocence should be familiar to attentive readers by now, and his repeated hiring of “rogue” assistants strains the plausibility of his denials.,“ Sullivan wrote. “Yet while the frequency of scandals on his watch (including the messy Karen Sypher affair) have exhausted much of Pitino’s political capital, he continues to fight for his battered reputation against a cast of characters now expanded to include Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.”
Pitino takes swipes at both Bevin and Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who the coach believes were instrumental in pushing Louisville to fire both him and athletics director Tom Jurich. When Pitino was interviewed for the Louisvile job, he was brought to town on a plane owned by Schnatter.
“In the years to come, I would find out a lot more about John Schnatter . . . .” Pitino writes. “Let me just say that knowing what I know today about him, including the fact that he would be instrumental in getting me fired, I would’ve jumped on a bus, taken a train, or walked rather than stepped on his plane.”
Schnatter has since been caught up in his own scandal that cost him his seat on the U of L Board of Trustees, his company’s sponsorship deal with the Cardinals and severely diminished his role in the company he started.
The Courier Journal’s Danielle Lerner and Gentry Estes offer “10 things to know” from the book. Among them, were Pitino’s relationship with the Kentucky program, his inability to even land an NBA interview after the scandal and the moment he learned about the FBI investigation.
“Pitino suggested that the media attention on Louisville’s scandals — as well as Governor Matt Bevin opting to replace U of L’s Board of Trustees — had to do with appealing to populism in the state for UK basketball,” Lerner and Estes write. “Pitino said the love for the Wildcats in the state ‘is rooted in any number of things: the dominance of Wildcats basketball, the history of the state, racism and Kentuckians’ vision of themselves as rural folk as opposed to city slickers.’”
Pitino noted that the perception of racism at UK hurt him when he was recruiting for the Cats. ““My insistence that institutions can evolve — which is something I wholeheartedly believe — didn’t always win over converts, and I can understand why,” Pitino writes.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello notes that Pitino only admits to being guilty of one thing: ignorance.
“If it is indeed over, Pitino’s legacy is a complicated one. In the near future, it will be impossible to mention him without addressing the multiple scandals that eventually led to his termination at Louisville,” Borzello said in a piece published Tuesday.
Perhaps the oddest reaction to the book came on Twitter on Tuesday in praise from Latin rap star Pitbull.
“#RickPitino congrats on the new book. Like most great people, society tries to find ways to knock them down but those who stay strong become legends. Rick, you’re a living legend. God bless, keep up the great work, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter in life, Dale!,” said the artist.