The sky is falling on the world of college basketball and a former CSU athletic director is caught in the downpour.
On Tuesday, ten people were arrested and charged with fraud and corruption following a two-year FBI investigation that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to top-level college basketball recruits. According to Federal prosecutors, at least three recruits were promised payments of as much as $150,000 to attend two different universities, one of which was the University of Louisville.
Headlining those charged in the investigation were James Gatto, director of global sports marketing for Adidas; Merl Code, Adidas employee; Christian Dawkins, former NBA agent; and Munish Sood, financial adviser.
Assistants from Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and USC were also implicated in the investigation, while Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave.
Jurich and Pitino were not among the original ten men charged.
Jurich, who has been at Louisville for the past two decades, served as AD at Colorado State from 1994-1997.
Jurich has accomplished a lot in his time with the Cardinals, including a men’s basketball championship in 2013 and a move from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
But the good doesn’t always outweigh the bad.
Jurich has been deeply criticized for multiple situations in his tenure with the Cardinals. In 2014, he brought back Bobby Petrino, who served as head football coach at U of L from 2003-06, following his scandal-ridden firing from the University of Arkansas. People have also been critical of Jurich’s consistent backing of Pitino following the unveiling of an extramarital affair in 2009 and the “escort” scandal in 2015.
So when reports of the investigation broke this week, instead of firing Pitino, Jurich once again backed his coach. Pitino was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday but according to his attorney, Steve Pence, Pitino has been “effectively fired”.
Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave but has made it clear that he wants to keep his job. Late Wednesday night, Jurich issued a statement through his attorney:
“Disappointment does not even come close to describing my feelings surrounding the allegation that any member of the U of L basketball staff could be involved in the criminal conduct announced yesterday. My intent has always been to run every athletic program at the university in an honest and compliant manner. It is heartbreaking to me that the alleged intentional and secret criminal acts can bring such harm to our school. I love this university, the Louisville community and all of our fans. I plan to continue to help U of L overcome the challenges it faces and work cooperatively with the university with the support of the U of L Board of Trustees following their meeting on October 19th.”
More high-profile agents, other universities, members of the sports apparel industry and the grassroots basketball industry could also go down in flames in the upcoming days.