ESPN Report Clairifies Sypher vs. Pitino -- Somewhat

ESPN.com is reporting several new things in the suddenly breaking story of Rick Pitino's alleged extortion by a woman reported to be Karen Sypher, estranged wife of the Louisville basketball program equipment manager.

The new revelations are essentially as follows:

  • It appears that the threats Sypher was allegedly making were "personal in nature" and "not related to his recruiting or coaching."  This was attributed to Candice Clifft of WDRB-Fox 41 here in Louisville, the news reporter to whom Sypher revealed her side of the story.
  • It appears Sypher conducted a long interview with Clifft, after which she was reportedly given a lie detector test, the results of which were considered "inconclusive."
  • Clifft told ESPN that there are currently "no plans to air the interview."
  • The Baltimore Sun reports that the allegations by Sypher involve "sexual misconduct," although I can't find their source for that anywhere on a cursory search.  But it would seem to jibe with the "personal in nature" characterization of Candice Clifft.

At this point in time, that's all anyone has been willing to say.  It looks like WDRB is going to sit on this story until they can get some kind of corroboration, which I think is commendable.

These articles also would seem to explain why the FBI is involved rather than local or state law enforcement.  According to the ESPN article, Pitino received threatening calls in late February, allegedly from Sypher and possibly even other accomplices, and the calls continued during the Big East and NCAA tournaments. The use of the telephone lines, mail, or other instruments of interstate commerce would seem to place the alleged crime into the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Sometime in March, Pitino alerted the FBI to the situation.  According to the Baltimore Sun's sources, millions of dollars were involved in the alleged extortionate threats.  Richard Pitino, who recently was hired by Billy Donovan as an assistant in Florida, denies that the alleged criminal activity surrounding his father had anything to do with him leaving Louisville to go to Florida.

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