Slippery Pitino Done in by FBI: Who’s Next on the Block?

Stop the internet equivalent of the presses: Louisville has fired Rick Pitino. No, not because of that.

The Cardinals head coach was fired as the result of an investigation by the FBI, who became involved because of the unique compensation system college sports imposes on itself. Evidently, luring a commit with a large cash payment isn’t a signing bonus in the bureau’s eyes, it’s a bribe. Forging academic and personal records isn’t academic dishonesty, it’s fraud.

To some, this is an enormous waste of the FBI’s time and resources. Of course college athletes are getting paid: they have something extremely valuable to offer. But moralizing aside, this investigation is likely to have a huge impact on the landscape of college basketball, especially for bettors. Louisville went from +650 to win the national title to +2000 and climbing as, in addition to the legendary Pitino, the school lost both its star recruits for 2018.

So far, at least six other schools have been embroiled in the FBI investigation: Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, and USC. But don’t think the casualties are going to stop there. College basketball’s elicit compensation program was one of the worst-kept secrets in sports history. Blind eyes were simply turned its way up to now. You can be sure several other major programs were doing the exact same thing, and more are going to find themselves in the FBI’s crosshairs.


While Louisville is an Adidas school, and Adidas schools are getting most of the heat, the seven schools listed in the press conference are variously sponsored by Adidas, Under Armour, and Nike. The omission of Texas was somewhat surprising, after all that noise about Mohamed Bamba’s recruitment. Alabama fired an administrator/compliance officer yesterday, so obviously there’s some kind of problem there. The inclusion of Ole Miss on the list was a kneejerk reaction to the words “recruiting violation” and “federal agents.”

Also: how did UNLV get a five-star? Since it’s not 1990, it must be cheating.

  • Texas: 9/1
  • Alabama: 12/1
  • Kansas: 15/1
  • Ole Miss: 16/1
  • Missouri: 16/1
  • UNLV: 20/1
  • Duke: 25/1
  • Kentucky: 25/1
Slippery Pitino Done in by FBI: Who’s Next on the Block?
Photo: Bryan Horowitz (CC License)


Obviously the head coaches of the schools mentioned in the press conference are at the top of this list, followed by the best recruiters in the country. Oklahoma State’s assistant got arrested, and seems to be getting the most attention, but Mike Boynton only arrived in 2016 and only became head coach this year. How much of this can really be pinned on him? Bruce Pearl, on the other hand, has been at Auburn since 2014, and neither his 16–38 SEC record nor his shady past will do anything to save his hide.

  • Bruce Pearl: 6/1
  • Andy Enfield: 8/1
  • Jim Larranaga: 15/1
  • Frank Martin: 15/1
  • Sean Miller: 15/1
  • Mike Boynton: 40/1
  • John Calipari: 50/1
  • Mike Krzyzewski: 50/1


Coaching legends don’t ever really go away if they don’t want to, particularly ones as skilled with Xs and Os as Pitino. They sort of circulate around the basketball world until they find another vaguely basketball-related job, or until another Division 1 school decides that they deserve another chance. But Pitino is 65 years old now. It’s going to take a couple years, at least, for the stench of this scandal (and the other one) to wear off. Will a coach who is nearing 70 and has a history of recruiting violations really be making a comeback? That doesn’t seem plausible, does it Larry Brown?

Stephen A. Smith suggested it’s time for Pitino to retire altogether, so that’s not likely to happen, given Stephen A’s prognosticatorial track-record.

  • Broadcasting job: 3/1 25
  • Head/assistant coach (NBA): 5/1
  • Head coach (NCAA): 7/1
  • Retirement from all basketball-related activities: 7/1
  • Assistant coach (NCAA): 25/1
  • Track suit model: 350/1
  • Other basketball-related job: 9/4
Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.

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