There is no bigger story. Ever.
If you just woke up, last night the Courier-Journal broke the big story — Rick Pitino admitted to police that he had consensual sex once (ONCE) in August 2003 in a bathroom at Porcini’s, then paid her three grand to get an abortion.
This is the news Sypher was using in her extortion attempt against Pitino — it’s the accusation local media’s been keeping secret even though Sypher was willing to talk about it to anyone who would listen. The most credible rumor — about Pitino paying for Sypher to get the abortion in Cincinnati — is true.
The story immediately vaulted to the top of local newscasts and went national within minutes. It’s a big deal on SportsCenter, and there’s a detailed piece at SI.com.
And it breaks only after Pitino’s interview with police is made public. No media outlet was willing to air Sypher’s story on its own, based on her words. The story is that one witness, Pitino’s assistant Vinny Tatum, was at the restaurant when the sexual act occurred, and he gave a priceless quote to the FBI about what he heard: “…only the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter.”
When you’re Rick Pitino, it must be expected that the owner of the restaurant gives you the keys and says to close up when you’re done. Expect the Frankfort Ave. eatery to become a tourist attraction.
So here comes the reaction, headed by the questionable one from Pitino’s boss, Dr. James Ramsey, who said his thoughts were with the Pitino family. As if some tragic event had occurred, a quote more appropriate for the death of a loved one.
Then there’s Steve Pence, Pitino’s lawyer, who tried to deflect attention by saying it’s not about Pitino, but about Sypher. He pointed to other facts — mainly that Sypher’s rape allegations weren’t taken seriously by police. Tom Jurich called in a quote of support.
Pitino has a morals clause in his contract. It addresses this sort of thing. U of L has cause to fire him. But the question comes down to how public opinion will come down on Pitino and whether he’ll be able to continue in his job as the Louisville basketball coach.
Interestingly, the C-J isn’t allowing public comments on its story. We are.