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Rick Pitino Extortion Plot: Just the Facts

It was reported Saturday evening by the Louisville Courier-Journal that U of L head basketball coach Rick Pitino has been the victim of an apparent extortion scheme.

Here's what we know: Pitino issued a statement, via the U of L Athletic Department, claiming to be the victim of an extortion plot --

"My family and I were recently threatened as part of a criminal scheme to extort money.  Upon receiving these threats, we reported this extortion attempt to the FBI.  While I did not want to make this matter public, I recently learned that the individual behind this extortion attempt has already gone to the media with false, defamatory and outrageous allegations in an attempt to pressure me to cave in to this scheme.  I intend to vigorously defend my reputation and the character of my family against any criminal scheme to extort money."

U of L President Jim Ramsey and Athletic Director Tom Jurich both issued statements in a show of support for Pitino.

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay then contacted the Courier-Journal, and made the following statement:

"There is a federal investigation going on, and there may be criminal charges placed against her as a result of what coach Pitino has brought to the attention of the FBI."

The "her" in that statement refers to Karen Sypher, wife of U of L equipment manager, Tim Sypher.

Clay, when told that Louisville television station WDRB 41 had made the woman's name public, and that her name was Karen Sypher, responded that he didn't "take issue" with that statement.

It has also been reported that WDRB conducted an interview with Karen Sypher, but as of yet, has not made that Q & A public.

David Boyer, FBI spokesman said that coach Pitino informed the FBI last month that he "was the victim of an apparent extortion and we have an ongoing investigation into the matter."

Tim Sypher has worked for Pitino for over 10 years.  First as a personal assistant to Pitino when he was with the Celtics (3.5 years), and for the last seven years as equipment manager at U of L.  He's also a former investigator for the state of Massachusetts (for 10 years).

[UPDATE 04/19/2009 7:30 AM by Truzenzuzex]  Mike Rutherford at the Card Chronicle has more on this story.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose, depending upon your perspective on marital infidelity) for Rick Pitino's reputation, Mrs. Sypher is quite attractive, and no matter what happened here, most people will assume the worst of both parties.  No amount of FBI investigation or revealed facts are likely to change that.  As Mike suggests, this situation seems destined to get uglier with time.

[UPDATE 04/19/2009 4:30 PM]  Tim Sypher, husband of the accused (soon to be ex-husband), has issued a statement HAT TIP kykat51

[UPDATE 40/19/2009 6:15 PM by Truzenzuzex]  WHO-TV is reporting that WDRB in Louisville did not air the allegations because, "[they] don't feel comfortable airing something that [they] can't prove yet."