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

(USA! USA! USA!)

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.