Friday, June 16, 2017

Punishment fazed

Here comes this photograph at you this morning, and there is something wrong with it. It's an eyeblink of time, captured during a news conference. It's the news conference in which the University of Louisville addressed the sanctions handed down against its basketball program by the NCAA, which some people seem to think were unduly harsh and a lot of other people seem to think was an appropriate  hammerstroke.

In the photo, left to right, basketball coach Rick Pitino, interim president Dr. Greg Postel and athletic director Tom Jurich are sitting at a table.

What's wrong with it is not their posture or their expression or their aspect.

It's that Pitino is in it at all.

In a world that makes sense, Pitino wouldn't be in that photo, because Louisville would have fired him by now. And the reason it would have fired him is he presided over a program that turned an athletic dorm into a de facto whorehouse that serviced its basketball players, some of whom were underage.

And yet, there Rick Pitino still sits.

And, yes, sure, the NCAA landed on Louisville with both booted feet. It handed Pitino a five-game suspension, and it stripped the Cardinals of their 2013 national title, an unprecedented event. The NCAA has never before vacated a national title.

Of course, it's never before had a school come before it that was offering sex for sale in its basketball facility.

And yet ... there Rick Pitino sits.

The notion that what was going on at Louisville was going on without his knowledge has been his saving grace, but it is a notion reserved for those who believe in fairy dust and unicorns. That the head basketball coach would not have at least an inkling that hookers were plying their trade right under his nose, in a building he frequented, strains credulity to the breaking point. There is no plausible deniability here -- although the Blob can say from personal experience that Pitino can be very convincing when it comes to denying stuff.

(Fort Wayne ... 1996 ... Pitino at a book-signing looking a certain reporter dead in the eye and denying he was leaving Kentucky for the Boston Celtics. The next day, he left Kentucky for the Boston Celtics.)

And yet ...

There Rick Pitino sits.

The architect of that national title.

The man who, because of that, has made the Louisville athletic program goo-gobs of money.

The man who is still employed today.

You connect the dots.

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