WAVE 3 and WHAS 11 are reporting that current Louisville and former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino admitted a sexual liaison with Karen Sypher. He also, according to the report, admitted giving
Sypher $3,000 to pay for an abortion to pay for health insurance [Note: After reading the police report, I feel compelled to correct this, as it is quite important. The original news reports got this detail somewhat wrong. Read the report at the link above].
There are no other real details in the WAVE report, other than a very contrite and upset Rick Pitino apparently answering some questions in a news conference.
More on this as details become available.
Well, I have read more about this breaking story, and I want to hearken back to this post I made earlier, for which I received a considerable amount of heat. I hate to say "I told you so," but the bizarre media silence about this seemingly straightforward, if embarrassing, fact is utterly beyond the pale.
Even though Sypher has allegedly done lawlessness for which, if she is guilty, she should certainly pay, the earlier attempts by Pitino and those surrounding him to paint her as some kind of a psychopath in order to keep this matter out of the press strikes me as very, very wrong. To wit:
"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."
I can't say for sure what Pitino was referring to as "false and defamatory," but my impression is that this statement was misleading. The news report said something about an allegation by Sypher of rape, and that could certainly be what he was referring to, and given the facts we know, I would have to agree. But clearly, this statement gives the unquestionably intentional impression that all of Sypher's information was "false and defamatory." We now know that isn't so.
And I cannot for the life of me figure out why it took so long for this to be confirmed. It's almost as if nobody in the print or broadcast media really wanted to find out the details of this story, and that both baffles and disturbs me.
I don't have the heart to condemn Rick Pitino for his liaison because I have good friends who have had affairs, and I don't condemn them. Yes, their actions and coach Pitino's actions were unethical and wrong.
But worse for Pitino is the difficulty he must have had reconciling his payment to terminate Sypher's apparent pregnancy with his Catholic faith [Please see the note above regarding the police report. Initial reports had this part incorrect. Pitino gave her the money apparently with the understanding that it would pay for health insurance after she told him she was going to have an abortion but didn't have health insurance]. I am very sorry for our former coach, and hope that he can find a way through, because unless I miss my guess, he is going through Hell right now, and he has only just begun his journey. I hope he can find his way back out the other side, and long before the Devil knows he's there.
This says nothing whatever about Pitino's ability as a coach, although he definitely has some explaining to do to his young charges. These are the kinds of personal actions that cannot be written off by a man in Pitino's position as a "personal matter" -- he is in charge of young men's lives, they look to him for guidance not just in basketball but in life, and he must find a way to turn this negative into a positive with respect to the young men under his care. Handling this the right way, being up front and honest about it, is something he should have done months ago, but now absolutely must do now in order to begin the recovery process from this unfortunate indiscretion.
In the end, this is a body blow to the personal repuation of a sure Hall of Fame coach. Rick Pitino is a big part of Kentucky's legacy, and I will love him forever for his years as a Wildcat, even as I must consider him the opposition as coach of the Cardinals. I hope that he can summon up his formidable will and raise himself back up from this knockdown.
I was not happy to hear this news, and my heart is heavy.