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After 16 years as head coach of the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program, Rick Pitino’s tenure has come to an end.
He was placed on leave amid a bribery scandal involving 10 coaches and associates with ties to multiple major programs.
Pitino brought a national championship and three Final Four appearances to the Cardinals, solidifying his presence in the annals of the program’s history.
But it is perhaps the notoriety that has accompanied Pitino’s successes that students and community members are remembering as they offered muted reactions to his effective firing.
“Sometimes good things have to come to an end,” senior Grant Hennessy told The Louisville Cardinal, the school’s student paper.
Sophomore Jared Deflippo was more pointed in his reaction to the Cardinals’ past ills.
“I came here for the sports culture, to hopefully see them succeed [in] basketball and football, but obviously it’s taken a step in the wrong way with basketball with what’s going on today,” he told the paper.
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Students and community members seem fatigued by the impropriety that has flanked the program. They are “ready to move past basketball scandals,” according to the paper.
Most notable among the scandals is a controversy involving prostitutes paid to entertain Louisville recruited athletes and players. The incident resulted in a post-season ban for the team in 2016, and Louisville’s 2013 championship stands in danger of being vacated.
Louisville’s next potential loss would be a season playing ban from the NCAA, colloquially called “the death penalty.” Even on this matter, some community members think such a move might be necessary to steer the program in the right direction.
The “death penalty is the only savior for the dumpster fire that is U of L men’s basketball,” the sports editor of The Louisville Cardinal, Dalton Ray, wrote. He continued:
“What pains me even more to say is the program needs the death penalty. Clean house. Start over. It’s a drastic move, but the men’s basketball program is simply out of control. There is no longer the option of cutting out the cancer … The program needs a culture change. Blow it up and start from scratch.”
The NCAA has said nothing of such a ban yet. But the hits keep coming for the Cardinals, college basketball’s most financially lucrative program. Two Louisville recruits, Afernee Simons and Courtney Ramey, have de-committed from the 2018 program.