LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rick Pitino has sued the University of Louisville Athletic Association for $38.7 million, saying it breached his contract by placing him on unpaid administrative leave without notice and firing him last month with no legally justified "cause."
The ULAA fired the Hall of Fame coach on Oct. 16, weeks after he was placed on leave when Louisville acknowledged it was being investigated in a federal bribery probe of college basketball. Pitino is not named in the federal complaint and has denied participation in and knowledge of alleged payments to a recruit's family.
Pitino's lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court seeks liquidated contract damages of $4.307 million through 2026. It says the ULAA did not give him 10 days advance notice before it "effectively fired" him and insists that he followed suggestions to improve oversight following a sex scandal that has resulted in NCAA sanctions.
University spokesman John Karman said the school is aware of Pitino's suit but won't comment on pending litigation.
Pitino's attorney Steve Pence said in a statement that the coach diligently supervised his staff and stressed compliance with NCAA rules.
Ten people, including four assistant coaches and Adidas executive James Gatto, were initially charged in the investigation on Sept. 26. The next day, Louisville interim President Greg Postel placed Pitino on unpaid leave and athletic director Tom Jurich on paid administrative leave. Trustees fired Jurich by 10-3 vote on Oct. 18.
Hours after Pitino's firing, Adidas terminated its personal services contract with the coach. He later sued the sportswear maker a day later and said it "outrageously conspired" to funnel money to a recruit without his knowledge.