Would I let my son play for Pitino? Yes, but I wouldn’t let him take my son to Porcini.
Steve, meanwhile, is one of several readers to suspect a double-standard:
The question should not be “would you let your son play for Pitino?” The question should be: “If this had happened to Steve Kragthorpe or any other UofL coach, would Dr. Ramsey and Mr. Jurich be so accommodating to support Mr. Pitino?” I could almost be certain that the answer would be a resounding NO.
Another Steven weighs in (and I’m putting most of these emails onto the blog in the order they came, and will not omit any that I received, so that the number of pro and con can be judged by you.)
Dear Eric Crawford,
I don’t make it a practice to write columnists but I just wanted to send you a note to let you know that, as a regular reader of your pieces, how much I appreciate your writing. These days, there is a great deal of hyperbole, sensationalism, and fire-stoking provocation in all media and perhaps especially in sport. Your pages, by contrast, I find thoughtful, carefully balanced, personal but never cloying. I also think, from the way you employ language that you would be a fine writer in any genre. Louisville is fortunate to have you in town. Your work in many ways reminds me of Dave Kindred (but that was before your time). Today’s article on Pitino was a good case in point.
Funny you said that, I’ve been hoping Kindred would weigh in on this in some forum. Maybe he will. This from William:
Dear Mr. Crawford,
I want to start this letter by saying I am a Kentucky Wildcat fan and enjoyed the years that Rick Pitino gave to UK. I know Rick from being a member of Vahalla as well as Hurstbourne Country Club. I know his friends and have had the chance to listen to the wild times that they have had. I also want to say that Rick is an extremely nice individual who does go out of his way to help people. There is another side to Rick that you may or may not know. I am sure that you know because that is your job, but believe me when I say he was out of control. This was not his first indiscretion or encounter. Not close. Tim Coury just gave him the keys to his fine establishment over to Rick? By the way, it is against ABC policy (law) to hand over keys with a liquor license to a person not associated with the establishment. If Rick was my friend I would have tried to talk him out of this and certainly would not have let my restaurant be used as a low end motel. The problem is when you expose yourself to that many women who enjoy a one night stand, you will eventually find one crazy one. His drinking and carousing are legendary. His friends are rich and wild and will take control of a room. They are just like Rick. What is embarrassing is that he put other people at risk for his fun. What is Vinny Tatum to do? How would you like to have to talk with police about this incident? Was he really there? I hope so. The embarrassment is not only to Pitino and his family, but to the University and fans who have supported him. I had to listen to snide remarks about Billy Clyde (for good reason) and to be honest he was no different than Pitino except that Pitino is the better coach. I have a feeling that there is more to this story that will eventually come out. Then we will see if you would send your son to play for him.
Kurt wrote about the recruiting angle:
I am not sure you read all your emails but I wanted to send this instead of posting among the morons on the comments section.
First off, do you think Rick sent Andy Reid a thank you for getting his name off the ticker?
Your topic today about recruiting made me think a little. I don’t see the recruiting being affected much because of the kids that he is going after. Most do not have a father figure in their lives so they have nothing to compare that too. Adultery is a grown-up problem, not a 16-18 year old problem. Not even sure they care about abortion. I am sure some of these kids know classmates that have had them. The coaches today are dealing more with the Sonny Vacarro and World Wide Wes types than they are the kids parents. At the least they are in contact with the AAU and HS coaches. These kids are looking to get to the league and get their Moms out of the situations they are in. The days of sitting on the couch talking to Johnny’s mom and dad are long gone.
I have also heard other talking points on road games and the Catholic issues. Do you honestly think that Rupp Arena was not going to be completely bonkers without this happening? The road on the Big East was already a daunting place, I don’t see this making it worse. As for the Catholic issue, if you are a practicing Catholic you believe in forgiveness. Once a person has asked for forgiveness and has paid his penance, you forgive.
Rob is hoping that emotions die down:
I, for one, very much appreciate your adding a little perspective to this truly strange and unfortunate set of events. Thank you for this column. I hope others will read it, take a deep breath, and think more clearly about the issue.
Keep up the good work, I enjoy your writing.
Good morning. While I’ve always enjoyed your work, I felt that I needed to email you and let you know that this morning’s article was outstanding. At the end of the day, everyone will have different opinions on this debacle, but your article sums it up perfectly. Well done!
Robert is one of several who thinks there’s more to the story. Remember, these represent people’s opinions or assumptions. Where they assume other questionable behavior happened, they do not offer specific examples. It is opinion.
I read with interest your column on Friday regarding Coach Petino’s behavior and whether he is should continue as a coach of impressionable young men. I think you are tiptoeing around the real issue and ignoring the real problem.
It must be obvious that Petino’s behavior in question is not a single incident. There is an iceberg involved. Petino’s womanizing has been a poorly kept secret in this community for a long time. Indeed, it was hardly a secret at all and you surely are aware of it.
The issue is not whether a single mistake can be forgiven. Of course it can. The issue is whether a continuing course of reprehensible conduct, so notorious that it cannot fail to escape the knowledge of his staff and players, disqualifies Petino as a coach of young men. The question is not whether you would want your son coached by a man who makes a single mistake and apologizes with true regret, but whether you would want your son coached by a man who brazenly engages in a very improper course of conduct, continually and repeatedly, without apparent regret until he gets caught.
it not obvious from this single incident that there is nothing unusual to either Petino, his friends and associates, about his activities on the evening in question? He and his entourage are well known to engage in evenings of revelry in this particular restaurant. His behavior on this evening was obviously nothing out of the ordinary. He latches on to whatever bimbo might be available, the owner turns over the whole restaurant to Petino and leaves, and, while Petino’s assistant stands guard, Petino and the bimbo retire to the rumpus room for a sexual frolic. Would you seriously suggest that this was not business as usual? Would you seriously suggest that this behavior was not well known to his staff? Would you seriously suggest that this behavior was not known to his players, at least to those who have been around for a few years? If that is true, would you want your son coached by someone who sets this sort of example?
Is the Petino situation any different from that of Bob Knight at Indiana? Knight behaved is a way that he would find unacceptable on the part of his players. He was dismissed. Petino is behaving in a way that he would find unacceptable on the part of his players. Should he not be dismissed?
If you believe that this particular incident is a single incident, not likely to be repeated, than I have no problem with Petino continuing as a coach and role model for young men. On the other hand, if this is a continuing course of conduct, should he not be gone?.
If Petino’s sexual conduct is habitual, he suffers from a significant behavioral problem. At the very least, he should undergo treatment and counseling as a condition of remaining in his position.
I find it hard to believe that the University administration is not aware of his problem, just as I find it hard to believe that you are not aware of the underlying problem. Just as any alcoholic must first recognize the problem and want to deal with it, Petino and the University must recognize the problem and want to deal with it.
Professional organizations, including the legal and medical professions, deal with problems of sexual addiction on a regular basis. They treat these problems as they do alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. They place their addicted colleagues on probation and require appropriate treatment programs that include counseling and therapy.
This writer brings a former college athlete’s perspective:
I enjoyed reading your column today and I thought you offered some great insights into a parents perspective on Pitino.
I was a college basketball player in the early 1990’s and I witnessed first hand numerous coaches infidelities. Because we were a division II school . . . we traveled with the men’s team and at one point the head men’s coach brought his girlfriend, who was the age of most of his players, on the roadtrip with us. I am not going to judge this coach or Coach Pitino because it is the nature of the business and I don’t have time for that.
I would like to offer an interesting angle to your article….you mentioned the email questioning whether you would let your son play for Pitino…how about would you let your child play for the NCAA? Coach Pitino is not exploiting his players, he is not using their image for commercials, brochures and other interests to generate revenue. The NCAA is far more corrupt than this man is being charged but you do not see people coming out of the woodwork demanding change off the NCAA. Few people know the rules governing student-athletes on summer jobs and what they can earn, medical redshirts and all sorts of other restrictions on young adults/kids that go to play for these institutions. Most college athletes struggle to get by as well as their families so they can support their children and attend games or even cover what the scholarship does not pay, all while the NCAA is getting a fat paycheck for using the likes of a Terrance Williams in advertising and promotions.
I absolutely value every minute of my college basketball career and I would not change one thing about it. I do have to shake my head when I hear people question whether they would let their child play of Coach Pitino. As a parent of an athletic 8-year old I would not let a teacher at school, the YMCA or anyone else exploit my child for gains in their organization and yet we all allow the NCAA to do it. I do know first hand that the way players are exploited by the NCAA is a much greater crime or indescretion than anything Rick Pitino did with Karen Sypher.
Just wanted to share a different view with you on this situation and while I root for the University of Louisville, I am an avid Indiana Hoosier. Just wanted to make sure you know that I am not defending the coach due to bleeding red and black.
That’s it for this section, but there’s plenty more email to come.