A few "fatherly" words about Louisville, Rick Pitino and foreboding NCAA probation


Around my house they are simply known as “dad’s rules.”

You can’t see my three grown-up boys now--but their eyes are rolling.

Dad, the sportswriter: “If you are leading a basketball game by three points in the final seconds, never allow your opponent to tie with a three-pointer. ALWAYS foul to assure you get possession back with the lead.”

Dad on baseball: “Thou shalt not make the first, or third out, at third base.”

Dad on golf: "ALWAYS putt the ball, instead of chip it, if you can, even from a drop zone."

Dad on dining out: “If you tick my hard-earned paycheck off for no good reason your establishment may face a punitive, USC-type probation.”

True story: We moved to Chino Hills in 1989 (years ahead of LaVar Ball’s family) and walked into a Basque restaurant that was supposed to be really good. We waited 15 minutes for menus before walking out. We have not been back. We hear it’s still really good.

The “Islands” in town is just now coming off a "show-cause" 10-year sanction for refusing to split the check for parents after a Little League game.

Dad does not also talk directly into a drive-thru order box at a fast-food restaurant. He needs to see the person messing up his order. No exceptions.

I don’t often break the rules out for public consumption, but today (Thursday) is now officially a Father’s Day weekend in which the University of Louisville basketball program has been handed NCAA violations that fall, in part, under the auspices of one of dad’s time-honored declarations.

And that rule is: NEVER, ever induct an "active" coach into your Hall of Fame.

Because, hard as it may be to fathom, you never know when a dormitory on that coach’s campus might be converted into a den of ill repute.

Most sports have a mandatory wait-time before honoring their best and brightest. It makes sense. For some reason, however, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is comfortable honoring coaches while they can still competitively contemplate all the evil things they might do to win.

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, subject of today’s inquiry, was inducted by his Naismith peers in 2013. That just so happens to be the year Louisville won an NCAA title in basketball it might now have to VACATE.

The coach of that team was Rick Pitino, who was sentenced Thursday with a “failure to monitor” charge that includes a five-game suspension next season.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had to scrape out the peach basket. Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim was also reprimanded and suspended, as an active coach, after he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Both coaches are, no doubt, worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. But can’t we wait until they have concluded their careers so that we can consider their entire portfolio? Aren't we glad Art Briles wasn't enshrined while he was still coaching football at Baylor?

Somewhere, upstairs, Jerry Tarkanian is laughing his ass off at the hypocrisy.

The HOF didn’t induct Tark, the notorious bad-boy at Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State, until he was darn-near on his death bed. Tark was every bit as deserving as Pitino and Boeheim, yet was time-punished for his nefarious misdeeds related to his utter contempt for NCAA rules and regulations.

Here’s the rub: Tark was finally allowed into Naismith’s hallowed halls in 2013...the same year as Pitino was feted.

And let’s be clear: what happened at Louisville, under Pitino’s watch, can certainly hold a stink candle to UNLV players, under Tark, sharing a hot tub with Richie “the Fixer.”

Read the complete NCAA statement here:

The NCAA’s ruling on Louisville certainly contained a hall-of-fame paragraph:

“Without dispute, NCAA rules do not allow institutional staff members to arrange for striptease and sex acts for prospects, enrolled student-athletes and\or those who accompany them to campus.”


The gist of the case against Louisville was this: a basketball operations director, hired by Pitino, was caught running a mini-bar brothel out of a dorm on campus named for Pitino’s brother-in-law, Billy Minardi, who was killed in the 9-11 attacks at the World Trade Center.

Just think about that sentence for another second.

Pitino’s defense seems a bit of a stretch—that he knew nothing about what was going on beyond his eyes.

Most hall-of-fame coaches know everything that goes on in their programs, unless they don’t want to know, which can be legally defended under “plausible deniability.”

The NCAA, indeed, could not directly connect Pitino to the violations but admonished him with that old, accountability stand-by: “But aren't you the guy in charge?"

Louisville will appeal the ruling and fight hard to protect becoming the first team in history to vacate an NCAA basketball championship.

Pitino will fight equally as hard to defend his reputation.

“For 35-some-odd years I’ve had a lot of faith in the NCAA and have reacted that way accordingly as a head basketball coach in the belief of their rules,” Pitino said at a Thursday news conference after sanctions were announced. “Not only is it unjust…over-the-top severe, but personally I’ve lost a lot of faith in the NCAA that I’ve had over the last 35 years with what they just did.”

Me, personally, I’ve sort of lost faith in a basketball Hall of Fame that keeps inducting active coaches who keep releasing these kind of statements.

It all goes back to dad’s basic set of rules:

-- Don’t erect statues of living people.

Penn State did this with Joe Paterno, and look how that turned out?

--Don’t name schools or buildings after people who may have to reveal they were not as squeaky clean as they pretended to be.

Naming a junior high after former Dodger star Steve Garvey, for example, may not have been the best idea.

And while we're on the subject of active hall-of-fame basketball coaches awaiting serious word from the NCAA committee on infractions...

...North Carolina Coach Roy Williams was inducted in 2007.