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The Big Blue Daily Mail -- News for Kentucky Wildcat fans, May 15th 2009

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A new kerfuffle has developed in the strange Rick Pitino extortion case, and it revolves around a photograph taken at the federal courthouse the other day where some of the supporters of Karen Sypher were picketing.  The picture, which you can see here at Kentucky Sports Radio along with Matt Jones' comments on the issue apparently cropped out the young man in the white shirt and tie to the right holding the sign asking the question,"What's the price of an abortion?"

There have been tons of rumor and innuendo, even a few Bleacher Report articles (which were subsequently removed) claiming to know all sorts of tawdry and sordid details about the case, every one of them involving some sort of impropriety by Coach Pitino.  But what is remarkable, and I think Matt Jones certainly gets this right, is the reluctance of the local media to report anything about Karen Sypher's side of the story.

The following are the facts that we know:

  • Karen Sypher was married to one of the members of Rick Pitino's staff.
  • Karen Sypher is accused by a federal grand jury of attempting to extort money from Rick Pitino.  It appears that some other people may have tried to assist in that attempt, or were somehow involved in the process.
  • Karen Sypher tried to tell her story to at least one television station, but the station refused to air her allegations citing a lack of ability to verify her claims.

That's really about all we know. So that leads me to suggest three possibilities:

  • Karen Syhper has nothing but a concocted story that is essentially just a lie made up out of whole cloth;
  • Karen Sypher actually has some kind of damaging revelation about Pitino.  Who knows how damaging, but something she thinks is significant.
  • Karen Sypher is mentally ill, or so emotionally disturbed that she cannot tell truth from fiction.

Here is my analysis of the situation.  Your mileage may vary, and I could be profoundly wrong about any or all of them, but here goes.

Based on what I know of Karen Sypher, she does not seem to be mentally ill.  She may be emotionally troubled, but her actions have not suggested some kind of pathological mental condition.  She appears to know that her actions in this case are at least questionable.

Karen Sypher does not strike me as the kind of person who is either smart enough to concoct a story out of whole cloth that she could hope to successfully use in an extortion attempt, nor stupid enough to believe she could.  With that said, it is not out of the question that she is simply a money-grubbing bimbo who fabricated a complete lie in order to extort money from a wealthy man.  If so, she wouldn't be the first nor, unfortunately, the last.

That leaves the second possibility.  Assuming she is not making it all up, Sypher either has, or believes she has, damaging information about Rick Pitino's behavior.  Most of us assume it is some kind of sexual impropriety, and that has been the nature of the allegations as characterized by Fox 41 in Louisville after Sypher tried to get them to publish her tale.  Whatever it is, Sypher clearly believes, rightly or wrongly, that Pitino did something that had a very negative impact on her life and deserves some kind of compensation, to the extent that she was willing to allegedly commit a crime to get it.

What does that have to do with the sign the young man is holding in the cropped photo?  Well, that young man is apparently Sypher's son.  Does that mean that the harm Sypher believes was done to her has something to do with an abortion?  We can only guess at this point, but the young man's participation would lead one to believe that he thinks his mother was mistreated somehow.  But even if it does, it is far from certain that any Sypher revelation would be as damaging to Pitino's reputation as she (and perhaps even he) thinks.  What is clear is that the news media are very reluctant to publish Sypher's story, and the reason for the unanimity of that reluctance is unclear.  Undoubtedly, fear of some kind of lawsuit is one driving factor, but that does not explain the Courier-Journal's failure to display the whole picture including her son and his sign.  While I respect the right of the Courier-Journal to make editorial decisions about the newsworthiness of that part of the photo, it does make one wonder, when taken together with the unanimous lack of media curiosity about Sypher's side of the story, exactly what is going on in local newsrooms.

Matt rightly points out that Chuck Hayes was accused of a sexual assault by a young woman with no more proof that Sypher has of her story, and that wound up all over the media.  Is Sypher less credible, or Pitino more vulnerable?  I wouldn't think either one, but we can only guess.  Since there is a criminal case in the offing, this silence cannot hold forever.  Assuming the case actually goes to trial, there will be testimony and leaks.  Of course, we will likely never hear about the story in testimony, since is is irrelevant to whether or not she attempted to extort Pitino.  But it will likely come out anyway either before or after the trial.

In my opinion, it is very possible that Rick Pitino was involved in some sort of unsavory business with this woman the details of which are likely to be embarrassing to him, his family and to Sypher herself.  Conversely, it is also possible that she is simply a blackmailing gold-digger and her story nothing more than a canard concocted from the bitter depths of an emotionally troubled soul. 

I am beginning to wonder, though, if Pitino has some mechanism of exerting influence on the local media to keep that allegation quiet, because it seems to me that almost any newsroom would be more curious than what we have seen so far from the media Kentucky.  That lack of curiosity doesn't make much sense to me because this is a potentially huge story both in Louisville and nationally.  Were there witnesses to this so-far-undisclosed act or acts?  Who were they?  Why does Sypher's story seem too incredible to print?  If Sypher is incredible, that is a story in itself, wouldn't you think?  What does her son know?  What does Rick Pitino know about her accusations?  Is he willing to tell us that they are all lies, assuming Fox 41 is willing to detail them to him?

But so far, we are left to speculate among ourselves about what Sypher is alleging as the motivation behind her extortion attempt, for which she is now on trial in federal court.  But from the local media, nothing but crickets, solidarity ... and cropped photos.

To quote the song, "I get these ... suspicions."  And now, for the rest of the news.



UK Basketball News

  • A John Wall decision could come as early as this weekend, according to Andy Katz.
  • Dan Shanoff of the Sporting News says Wall should go to Kentucky.
  • Did you know that John Calipari is considered by some as the reason the Memphis Grizzlies have ... ahem ... sucked?
  • Florida waves goodbye to John Wall.
  • Scout joins Rivals in selecting UK's recruiting class as #1.
  • Coach Calipari will be attending the Dicke V. Gala.  Via the Big Blue Booyah.  Also, Jerry Tipton blogs that Calipari will speak to an audience of Human Resource specialists at the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management.
  • Calipari promoting UK nin new ways.  He doesn't care for, "the rapping and dancing and all that."  Works for me.  And Coach Cal is the national leader for Twitter use among coaches, much as our former coach was a texting junkie.  Beware, Coach, the NABC is plotting to nix your tweets!

UK Football News

  • Moncell Allen is once again academically eligible.  Great news for him and the football team.

Other UK Sports News

  • Wildcat softball drops opener to BYU in the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Sports News

  • Steve Spurrier a pot-stirrer?  Who knew?  And Lane Kiffin right there with him, and Richt and Meyer.  Heck you have to go all the way down to #5 to find a non-SEC coach.
  • Waymon Tisdale passes away.  All too young.

Other News of Interest

  • Rick Pitino makes the FBI top ten stories of the week.
  • NBA combine invites.