Speed Read: What’s Rick Pitino Going To Do Now?

As Brooks mentioned late last night, the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL is reporting that Rick Pitino admitted to police that he had sex with Karen Sypher, the woman he has accused of extortion, then paid her $3,000 to get an abortion when she became pregnant. All of this happened back in 2003, and the reasons behind his case against her have become much clearer: she demanded $10 million, among other things, to keep quiet about all of it. He wasn’t having any of that, and went to the FBI about it.

Rick Pitino

Sypher fired back with a rape charge against Pitino, saying that the liaison that led to her pregnancy was an assault, and not a consensual incident. Pitino was never charged with anything because Sypher’s story is full of holes and she could offer no evidence of such an assault (in fact, she went on to marry Louisville’s equipment manager, Tim Sypher, ensuring that she would be spending more time around Pitino).

So now what for Pitino? His lawyer says he’s not making any public statements until the trial, but this is a pretty large matzo ball just hanging out there now. There’s not much else going in Louisville other than this, so it’s just going to keep building and building. How can the guy be an effective coach at this point?

I won’t try and recount the entire COURIER-JOURNAL story here (however, it’s well worth your time to read it), but I will mention a few things that have stood out for me since taking some time to digest everything:

1. Brooks noted months ago that it was curious that ESPN used Pat Forde to report on the situation originally, considering the fact that Forde is a Louisville resident who co-authored a book with Pitino last year. Well, the WWL obviously hasn’t reconsidered that decision, as they trotted him back out last night to comment on the situation on ESPNEWS. Forde was presented simply as an “ESPN.COM senior writer,” and no mention was made on the air of his personal ties to Pitino. Predictably, Forde tried to downplay the latest revelations and focused mostly on emphasizing Sypher’s legal troubles. He admitted that Pitino was in an uncomfortable spot now, but stopped well short of saying anything critical of the coach.

Pat Forde

(Where’s Cossack or Munson?)

1A. If Sypher filed a civil suit against Pitino for allegedly raping her, would ESPN find that worthy of coverage?

2. We don’t know for sure that this was Pitino’s kid, right? Pitino says he would request a paternity test if she decided to have the kid, but she opted for an abortion instead. She then accepted $3,000 from him for the procedure. She clearly had the abortion, but isn’t it possible that she went to Pitino for the money because she knew he would pay up? He says she told him that she hadn’t had sex with anyone else in months, but she hasn’t appeared to be entirely trustworthy here.

3. Pitino says that he and Karen Sypher met at Tim Sypher’s condo (she and Tim didn’t know each other at the time) to talk about the pregnancy and figure out what to do. Now, knowing what was going on, what on earth would make Tim go “you know what, I think I need to get aboard the Karen train”? Shockingly, the Syphers are now estranged.

Karen Sypher

4. UL president Tom Jurich is quoted as saying that Pitino “has been truthful about this matter with us all along.” Does that mean the school has known all of these details for six years? If not, when did they find out? Was there any sort of off-the-record punishment for this? Some coaches have gotten canned for drinking beer at a frat party, so I can’t imagine that UL would’ve taken too kindly to their married coach impregnating a woman at a restaurant.

5. Pitino isn’t in any sort of trouble legally, but as this drags on in court it’s going to be a huge distraction. Was that a consideration in bringing Ralph Willard over from Holy Cross to be his new lead assistant? Willard’s exactly the kind of guy who could step in on an interim basis if Pitino decides to either take time off or step down altogether. Pitino actually had a possible way out of Louisville a few months ago when the Sacramento Kings were looking for a new coach, but he decided to stick around.

Ralph Willard

(UL’s next coach?)

Is Rick Pitino going to be Louisville’s coach in 2009-10?

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It may not be the biggest soccer game the U.S. has ever played, but today’s showdown with Mexico in a World Cup qualifier sure seems like a big deal. That’s probably because ESPN has spent an inordinate amount of time hyping the game. Having just acquired English Premier League rights, and coming off a summer of showing a number of games involving European clubs touring the U.S., the network is clearly committed to promoting the sport like never before. And they finally seem to have realized that they way to make the game more popular in this country is to give us less MLS and more actual good soccer.

US soccer fans


That recent commitment has resulted in a first — ESPN has sent Bob Ley and Alexi Lalas down to Mexico City to put on a 30-minute pre-game show for today’s match. This despite the fact that the game isn’t being shown on ESPN (it’s on some channel called mun2 if you’re wondering).

U.S. Mexico soccer

Despite all the attention, the game is much less crucial to the U.S. than it may seem. The Americans are comfortable in second place in the qualifying group, and while a loss to Mexico wouldn’t be ideal, the U.S. would still have the edge in the standings. The expectations aren’t exactly high, either — the U.S. is 0-22-1 in Mexico.

That puts all of the pressure squarely on Mexico, which sits in fourth place in the group and needs to get into the top three to automatically qualify for the World Cup. A loss to the U.S. would be a complete disaster and might put them in too deep a hole to dig out of. In other words, the Americans don’t have a whole lot to lose out there, and if they can shock Azteca Stadium with an early goal, watch out. That won’t be easy, though, as this LA TIMES article contends. At 7,400 feet in the middle of a smoggy afternoon in a cavernous stadium that will be shaking with noise, it’s maybe the worst stadium atmosphere for visitors in the entire world.

Azteca Stadium

Let’s get on with the links:

• The BOSTON GLOBE has a great photo essay of Kevin Youkilis losing his s*** after getting plunked by Detroit’s Rick Porcello last night:

Kevin Youkilis charging mound

It was a poor effort by Youk, who had all the upper hand when he tossed his helmet at a stunned Porcello, and still ended up getting spun down to the ground by the 20-year-old. In other words, he only did marginally better than Zimmer.

Don Zimmer Pedro Martinez

A horse trainer in Arizona has been accused of sexual abuse with his students. People (young girls), if you’re wondering.

• Politicians in New Jersey are threatening to withhold state money from pro teams that play there but don’t mention the state on their uniforms. Which appears to be all of them except the Devils, now that the Nets have removed the “New Jersey” from their road unis.

new jersey nets dancers

(OK, so maybe these don’t technically say New Jersey, but we get the picture)

• Baseball and softball are out, but women’s boxing might be in for the 2012 Olympics. Also, it’s about time they fixed the debacle that is the modern pentathlon.

• All these years, I had no idea that Brooks was in a country music duo with Adam Dunn. Well, used to be in a country music duo.

• Coming soon to “The Ocho,” the world championships of catching laptops in your butt:

Adrian Gonzalez set a Padres franchise record with 6 hits in a 9-inning win over the Brewers last night. The last Padre with 6 hits was Tony Gwynn, who did it in an extra-inning game 16 years and 80 pounds ago.

• Australian Trent Oeltjen spent 9 years in the minors, but he’s 12-for-24 with 3 homers in his first 5 games in the majors with Arizona. He got a standing ovation from the Chase Field crowd during his 4-hit game last night against the Mets (it’s been a rough year there).

• We reported yesterday that the USFL is supposedly coming back, and wants to resurrect the teams from the old league. Not sure how they’re going to get a license for those names and logos, though, as this site has been selling USFL logo merchandise for a few years (I got a Portland Breakers shirt there).

New Jersey Generals

(Now here’s a team the fine folks of New Jersey can be proud of)

• One month later, Arturo Gatti’s death is just a big a mystery as ever.

• You think pro athletes in this country behave outrageously? Australia’s National Rugby League is in the midst of a crisis due to one ridiculous scandal after another. Sponsors are considering pulling their support from the league until things get under control. The latest incident involves Greg Inglis, said to be one of the best players in the world. He is charged with assaulting his girlfriend over the weekend. It’s kind of the equivalent of Kobe Bryant hypothetically getting accused of something like sexual assault…oh, wait.

Figure Skater Had The Time Of Her Life In Prison

Nicole Bobek apparently made the most of her short New Jersey prison stay last week, after she was swept up in a statewide meth bust. After just three days in jail, she seems to have been the most popular girl on campus.

Nicole Bobek

Bobek made friends out of everyone at the Hudson County Correctional Center over the July 4th weekend, leading exercise classes and making tube tops for her fellow inmates. I bet they’re all glad meth is so addictive, so Nicole could be back soon!
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Lawsuit Could Lead To Sports Betting Nationwide

As we reported earlier on SbB, Delaware is set to legalize sports betting by the start of football season. Well, consider the floodgates officially open. A New Jersey lawmaker is suing the federal government to overturn it’s ban on sports wagering.

Sports Betting

After a study that predicted a $10-billion-a-year business that could add $100 million annually to New Jersey’s coffers, it was a no-brainer for the financially strapped state. But the ban wouldn’t just affect the Garden State; it would allow every state to decide whether to legalize it. So this might be one Supreme Court case you’ll be able to eagerly follow on ESPN’s Bottom Line.

What are the odds of Jersey having a case? It’s not a bad bet, actually.

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NJ Man Invents “Shatterproof” Wood Baseball Bat

Last year, more than 2,000 bats broke during the last three months of the Major League Baseball season. Last April, a woman at a Dodgers game had her jaw broken by a chunk of Todd Helton’s shattered bat. One of the main reasons that youth and college leagues use metal bats (which are more dangerous for pitchers) is because the cost of constantly replacing broken wood bats is too high.

Ward Dill batmaker

All of these things got New Jersey resident Ward Dill to thinking. What if he could make a wood bat that doesn’t break? The MIT graduate got to work and eventually did just that. Now, Dill’s radial bats, which are made out of wedges that fit together rather than a single piece of wood, have been approved for use by the NCAA. Dill envisions a day where metal bats are pushed out by his new creation.

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NJ Coach Loves Soccer, Showing Kids Naked Pics

You know, most of the whole “naked cell phone pictures” phenomenon has centered mostly around high school girls (namely, cheerleaders) sending photos around to local boys for attention. But then this guy came around:

Keith Ammerman perv soccer coach

He’s a youth soccer coach in New Jersey who decided that it was a good idea to show some 13-year-old boys nude photos on his phone. Only, it appears they were of him. Oof.

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NFL Cheerleading Isn’t Brain Surgery - Or Is It?

• Titans cheerleader Melissa: All about beauty, ballet & brain research.

Melissa Tennessee Titans cheerleader

• Coming soon to a cinema near you: Dennis Rodman & The Four Dwarfs.

• Will the Worldwide Leader defy the Free World Leader over the BCS?

• Speaking of ESPN, the freshly-cut Pacman Jones plans on bringing a lawsuit against the boys from Bristol.

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Teen Flips Off HS Basketball Crowd, Gets Arrested

For years, players have had a hard time controlling their emotions when they feel opposing crowds have just been too harsh. Sometimes they protest with vociferous argument. Sometimes they just roll their eyeballs. Occasionally, they take things a step further, and shoot the bird at the home crowd.

Johnny Cash giving the bird

(It’s only cool when Johnny Cash does it)

Well, a New Jersey teenager got in on the act when she couldn’t hold back her emotion during a high school basketball game on Wednesday, charging on to the court to flip off the hosting school’s crowd … promptly earning herself an arrest for the on-court adventure.

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Nazi-Linked Co. May Buy Rights To Giants Stadium

German insurance and financial services giant Allianz is in negotiations with the New York Giants and Jets to purchase the naming rights to the new Meadowlands stadium that is scheduled to open in 2010. But, while naming deals are old hat these days, the teams are facing a bit of a moral dilemma in deciding whether to plaster the name of a company that was involved in insuring Nazi concentration camps on the front of their new digs.

Allianz Arena in Munich

It’s an issue that should at least be raised anywhere, but is particularly touchy in New York, which contains the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel. While Allianz has certainly made attempts to atone for its past transgressions (which included refusing to pay out life insurance policies to Jews and redirecting the money to Nazis), this might not be the best PR decision:

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Erin Andrews Responds To Rankled Rutgers Fans

People in New Jersey have never been shy about sharing their feelings with others, usually going on about how Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi are the greatest things to happen to music since, well, ever. So clearly, though they have no problem expressing themselves, they aren’t the smartest people in the country.

Still, it’s hard to blame the good people of New Jersey for being upset when they found out that Rob Stone was going to be working the sidelines of yesterday’s game between Rutgers and Fresno State instead of the lovely Erin Andrews. After all, I’m guessing about 50-60% of the males in attendance only bought tickets to the game because they were under the impression that Andrews would be working the sidelines. Those fans weren’t alone in their frustration either, as even Erin took the time to write Stone a letter about the whole thing. A letter Rob shared on the air.

Video of Rob’s reading after the jump.

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Kidd: Big Ups To The “Great City” Of New Jersey

CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING has the most important aftermath of the soon-consumated player exchange between the Mavs and Nets - Jason Kidd’s tribute to everyone’s favorite New Jersey City. Make that City of New Jersey. Oh f— it, just let J-Kidd spell it out in the NEW YORK POST: “Jersey is a great city. It doesn’t get its just [due]. The state itself. The golf is great. The fans were wonderful. I wish them the best of luck.

Texas City

We’ve got an early bead on the location of Kidd’s next tee time.