No plans to discipline Rick Pitino
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich knows the lurid details that came to light during the trial of a woman who tried to extort millions from Rick Pitino could affect some people's perception of the highly successful coach.
Jurich isn't one of them.
He reiterated his support for Pitino on Thursday after a jury found Karen Cunagin Sypher guilty of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of retaliating against a witness.
Pitino acknowledged during six hours of testimony that he had a sexual encounter with Sypher at a Louisville restaurant in July 2003. She demanded millions in exchange for her silence, leading Pitino to eventually tell authorities about the plot.
"I feel very proud in the fact that he did own up to everything," Jurich said. "He understood the consequences taking this to the U.S. Attorney, taking this to the government. He knew his name would be dragged through the mud but he also wanted the facts out there because the only thing that would vindicate him in this case were the facts."
Jurich stressed "there were no winners" in the process but added the university would not discipline Pitino for his conduct. Pitino publicly apologized last summer for what he then called an "indiscretion" at the request of university president James Ramsey.
Pitino, who was not available for comment after the verdict was announced, signed a four-year contract extension in the spring that will keep him at Louisville through 2017.
"He's a grand ambassador for this athletic program," he said. "When he came here [in 2001], it was a difficult time for all of us and he's made it much, much better. This is an error in judgment, which he's always said and been up front with and I certainly think it won't happen again."
Juror Charles Smith, who acknowledged he's a Louisville fan, said he didn't come to any conclusions about Pitino or his character.
"He was not the one on trial here," Smith said. "Whatever was being said about him during the trial never affected me at all."
Jurich has no concerns whether the trial will impact Pitino's job performance, pointing out that Pitino went straight from the witness stand to the recruiting trail.
"He spent the last days of the live [recruiting] period going 180 mph, so he's very committed to making this work," Jurich said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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