NEW YORK >> Rick Pitino knows his coaching days are most likely behind him. He still wants to be involved in basketball, where he’s spent a lifetime.
“I think my time has passed, I really do,” Pitino said of coaching again today from the headquarters of the Associated Press. “I’m young. I’m physically very young and mentally very young. I just think there are a lot of young reporters out there that won’t let it go. The moment I’m hired, ‘Why didn’t school X look at this’?”
It’s been nearly a year since Pitino was fired from Louisville after the school acknowledged it’s men’s program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption inquiry. He wrote a book “Pitino: My Story” to tell his side of the events that led to his ouster from the school where he coached for 16 years and led to a national title in 2013 that was vacated because of the scandals.
Pitino’s book is partly a memoir of his time coaching at Providence, the Knicks, the Celtics, Kentucky and Louisville. It also focuses on three aspects of the past few years, the 2015 sex scandal, the 2017 FBI investigation into the influence of shoe companies in college basketball and his eventual dismissal at Louisville.
“Some people will believe it, some people won’t,” Pitino said of his book. “That I don’t care. All I care is that there’s the truth in that book. I’m not passing the blame on anyone because it not only stops with me, but I’m out of coaching because of it. I paid the ultimate price for failure with people.”
Pitino reiterated his contention today that he wasn’t aware of potential payments to recruits to steer them to Louisville or having knowledge that a former basketball staffer hired escorts and strippers for sex parties with recruits and players.
He understands the skepticism.
“One-hundred percent. If I’m a lay person reading these two scandals, I’m saying. ‘Is this guy for real?’” Pitino said. “That being said, that’s not the truth. Nobody knew what was going on in that dormitory except for the people involved.
“The amazing thing out of everything wasn’t that security didn’t know, not that the assistants didn’t know, not that six players on the team didn’t know. Twenty managers. My nephews, who lived in that dorm. The incredible thing to me is that it didn’t leak out on social media. That to me is the most telling thing. People were afraid.”
Pitino took responsibility for hiring former player Andre McGee, who was at the center of the sex scandal.
“The buck stops with me,” he wrote.
Pitino, who turns 66 this month, plans to stay involved in the game, speaking to college teams and coaches around the country this year.
“I know every coach in America would want me at their practice, but the AD or president may say wait a second,” Pitino said. “That’s fine with me. I will go where I’m wanted to help young people become better at basketball. If I can help the coaches in any small way I’m totally fine with that. I understand an administrator who doesn’t know who I am, not wanting me to be there.”