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Old 09-28-2017, 12:15 AM
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Pitino will fight to be paid his full contract

An attorney for Rick Pitino said he will fight to have the full contract paid to his client, who he says was "effectively fired" as the University of Louisville basketball coach Wednesday.

"We intend to fully enforce the terms of the contract," attorney Steve Pence told ESPN.

Pitino, who was put on administrative leave, had nearly nine years left on his contract, which ran through the 2025-26 school year. It currently has $37.7 million in salary and media obligation compensation and an additional $6.75 million in retention bonuses. The contract has no specified buyout if they were to have fired him voluntarily on good terms.

Per his contract, Pitino was owed 10 days written notice and an opportunity to be heard before being fired for "just cause," which likely would allow the university not to pay him an additional dime after the month when he is officially terminated.

But walking away without giving Pitino more money could be hard, according to one attorney who works as outside council for a Power Five athletic conference.

In one instance, Pitino's contract calls for "just cause" if there's an NCAA violation.

The allegation that a recruit -- which a source told ESPN was Brian Bowen -- took $100,000 from a group including Adidas executive Jim Gatto to steer him to Louisville is a government investigation, not an NCAA one. It's currently not an act of criminality either, another condition that would allow Louisville to terminate Pitino without paying him further.

"That could change if he is confirmed as the 'unidentified coach,' though that might not come out for a long time," the Power Five attorney said.

The Power Five attorney was referring to remarks the FBI alleges were made by Jonathan Brad Augustine, a program director of an Adidas-sponsored AAU team. According to court documents, Augustine said he expected Adidas "to fund at least a portion of future payments ... because 'no one swings a bigger (expletive) than (an unidentified Louisville coach)' at Adidas." According to the documents, Augustine also said that "all (coach) has to do is pick up the phone and call somebody (and say), 'These are my guys, they're taking care of us.'"

Spence, in a statement released Wednesday, said Pitino "has done nothing wrong and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The rush to judgment is regrettable."

Pitino's contract also contains a standard morals clause, but Pence said he thinks that, too, might fall short without any concrete evidence that Pitino was complicit in bringing the recruit to the Cardinals.

That leaves Louisville, which has an interim president and will soon have an interim athletic director, with a tougher negotiation.

The man in charge of the negotiation will be J. David Grissom, the chairman of the board of trustees. Sources close to Louisville said Grissom, who holds a law degree from Louisville, is "up for the challenge."

With dim prospects for a future in coaching, and a lot of money on the line, Pitino might have leverage, as a threat to sue and go through discovery and drag the program down further might not be seen as much of a risk from his standpoint.

Wednesday wasn't the end for Pitino and Louisville. It might end up being seen as the day longtime partners became enemies.
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