Rick Pitino and Adidas have settled the federal lawsuit the former Louisville coach filed against the apparel company following his dismissal in 2018, per his attorney Steve Pence.
Louisville fired Pitino after he was tied to an alleged scheme to pay the family of former five-star recruit Brian Bowen II a six-figure sum to entice him to sign with the Cardinals, uncovered during the FBI’s bribery investigation that rocked the sport. In the lawsuit against Adidas, Pitino’s attorneys said the apparel company “knowingly or recklessly caused him emotional distress when its employees conspired to bribe University of Louisville basketball recruits.”
“Adidas and Coach Pitino have entered into a confidential settlement agreement resolving all matters between them,” said the joint statement by Pitino and the apparel company. “Over sixteen years working with Adidas, Coach Pitino demonstrated his passion for the game of basketball and his commitment to excellence both on and off the court. We wish Coach Pitino the best in his new role as head coach of Panathinaikos, the Greek national team and any future endeavors.”
A federal judge dismissed Pitino’s lawsuit last year and ruled that Pitino and Adidas would have to settle their case in arbitration.
Pitino was the most noteworthy name to fall in the FBI’s probe of college basketball, which led to the arrests of four Division I assistant coaches. At the time of Pitino’s firing, Louisville’s expiring deal had given the former coach about $1.5 million per year, 98% of the cash in the school’s deal. A new deal worth $160 million over 10 years restructured the pay scale following Pitino’s dismissal.
Pitino accused Adidas of “outrageous conduct” that caused him “extreme embarrassment” when Adidas executive James Gatto, Adidas employee Merl Code and agent Christian Dawkins allegedly executed a pay-for-play scheme for Bowen and other recruits.
He sought unspecified damages in his lawsuit.
“[Pitino] has never authorized, tolerated, participated in or otherwise condoned giving improper benefits to recruits or players, or to their families, especially as an inducement to have recruits join the University of Louisville men’s basketball program,” the lawsuit said.
The settlement between Pitino and Adidas does not end the potential drama for Louisville. Kansas and USC, schools tied to the FBI’s bribery investigation, recently received notices of allegation from the NCAA. Louisville is also expected to receive a notice of allegation in the coming months.