Pitino column: Reader emails

Lots of emails today in response to the question I posed in this morning’s column: “Would you let your son play for Rick Pitino.”

I want to thank everybody for some great responses, whether you agree or not. They had obviously been given some thought and were expressed with passion.

I am not including names, because there were too many for me to go back and ask permissions. Anyway, read on. I’ll put 10 or so in each blog entry.

Don’t expect any punches to be pulled. As in this email …

ERIC- You probably know that I send emails to you very rarely. I hope you DO remember me as I think our communication has been good, sensible, and fair. You have to be sick of the Pitino thing as it has consumed this town (and the nation as I’m told and see on sports television). I will probably give you my opinion at some time in the future as I greatly respect the responses you have given me when we’ve traded emails in the past.

– SNIP –

To keep this short and to the point, I feel like there are ‘facts’ to the Pitino story as well as ‘opinions’. I don’t like to argue opinions as it usually goes nowhere. My question to you is simply this: From what I am seeing from the local sports population it appears that the overwhelming ‘opinion’ is that Pitino is a great coach and wins a lot of games and the majority of those weighing in on the subject want it to go away. This is the part you may not like but I’m just hoping you give me the benefit of the doubt. I can ‘factually’ tell you that I have personally spent time with Tom Jurich in a very small gathering of the people he associates with. We have spoken at length. My brother has ‘factually’ done business with Rick Pitino to the point that he could walk into his office any time he pleased and if it means anything, Rick Pitino felt close enough to my brother at the time to send Christmas gifts, etc merel! y out of friendship in their business venture. Now, to end this, I can ‘factually’ tell you that both of these men are phonies and ‘use’ anyone they can to promote themselves and their agendas. I’ve known this for years and it has sickened me for years. This newest twist doesn’t surprise me (or many others I’m sure). In my ‘opinion’ there is something very wrong with this whole picture and the make up of the University of Louisville. For actions such of that of Rick Pitino to be supported by the president of the university as well as their athletic director speaks volumes and it tells me they are way off base with their judgement in this case. I don’t want to stoop to Rick Pitino’s level but I can’t believe that a ‘factual’ adulterer, abortion provider, as well as a bold face liar has fooled so many people. Am I missing something here ??

I would just like to know if you agree with my assessment or feel otherwise. I respect your opinion and I would really like to know your thoughts on this matter. I cannot believe the support this man is getting. THANK YOU for your time.

This email from Mike . . .

Nice article on how to suck up to Pitino. While he is your friend, compose the article like it should be, not in a way so that you can interview him in the future. You have known him for 10 years, he is your friend, there is no way that you would conclude your son couldn’t play for him, he is your friend. I also have a son. When Pitino left UK, I could explain this as a business decision to my son, even though he had Pitino stuff everywhere in his room. You are missing the point. Pitino is a role model to our youth. How do you explain to your son that it is okay to have extra marital affairs, pay for an abortion, but remain as head coach at a prominent university like UL? We are Big Blue fans, but this has nothing to do with UK vs. UL rivalry. It has to do with morals. Pitino is an embarrassment to college basketball and to the Commonwealth of Kentucky! I ask you this, had it been one of Pitino’s players who did this, what would been the outcome? Maybe ask your friend Pitino that question or better yet write an article about it and get responses from your readers. I would think that player would be sent on his way. Pitino is not above the game of college basketball. He deserves no royal treatment. Our youth deserve better!

The following email comes all the way from South Africa, from Myles:

Hello Eric,

You’re right on. I’ve heard rumors about Pitino being a hard drinker. I have rough days at work as well… yesterday was one. There’s days when I say I’m going to get drunk. It’s only happened a few times in over 40 years, but I enjoy my spirits. I’ve been a UofL basketball season ticket holder since the 70’s. I’ve been around and I’ve made my share of mistakes. I’m not in the limelight so if they were discovered, they wouldn’t be drug through the gutters. I wish the media would use common sense. I can’t believe Top Secrets are uncovered and published. I’m a patriot, a former Top Secret Clearance holder and I can’t imagine spilling the beans on secrets.. Secrets are secrets for our protection. I really don’t like much about the media.

I read Shawn Johnson’s or Jackson’s story on line yesterday. I should remember his name because I won’t read any of his drivel again. I’m willing to bet he’s made his share of mistakes. Even Sunday School teachers have.

I haven’t agreed with everything you write, but you’re my man from now on. Obviously your subject is a takeoff from Bobby Knight’s… Would you let your son, etc. Even if you don’t approve of all his actions, Bobby also turns out fine young men. Thanks for standing up for coach. I bet both coaches’ former players will be in their corners.

This from Phillip:

While I’d hate to see coach P fired, too, his best move could be to give his entire coming year’s salary back to the university. That would an apology basketball fans could really appreciate.

From Ben:

Would you let your son play for Pitino?

Your article helped me. Shared like a true friend – to readers, the community … perspective and a thoughtful way of expressing it.. An average fan and citizen, someone like me, I/we don’t know what you know, see what you see. Thanks for caring about our community, sharing your heartfelt thoughts – even though you know some will take issue. You helped me. Betting you helped us. Thank you.

John says he’s had enough:

Mr. Crawford I’ve been hard On coach Pitino at times. No doubt. I’m hard to please.

On the flip side and in the long run I’ve been a 100% supporter of him, his methods, his results and his decisions.

No more.

Besides the obvious indescretion one of my friends brought up soemthing that I read but in a sense didn’t read or think of the implications. One of the pieces done in print on this episode indicated he was given the key to Procini’s. Why? It makes no sense unless… How many other times has he used this privilege? Was it the first time? Ya right.

No, my support for U of L basketball will die a permanent death if he’s allowed to stay on. It shows no class, moral or ethics on behalf of the U of L.

I’m not sure of the name of this writer, but the subject of the em
ail was “Garbage.”

What nonsense. You people there need a reality check; Pitino violated a contract clause and the decision to keep or can rests with the UL president. It’s that simple.

And isn’t it wonderfull that college basketball only lasts 4 months-thank goodness for the NHL!

This is from Mary, who asks a legitimate question:

Dear Eric,

I read your columns and think you do an excellent job. I bleed Blue (UK) and have been a fan of Rick Pitino for years (even when he went to Louisville). Let me ask you – do you have a SON? And if the answer is yes and you would let him play for Rick, then I accept your answer, but if you do not have a son and this is speculation, I think you might change your mind in real time. My heart breaks for Rick’s family.

To me, Tubby Smith was the “gentleman of the Bluegrass” and I would want my son (and I don’t have a son) to play for him.

Keep up the great work.

Answer: I have two sons in fact. Though to be honest, for either of them to be good enough to play for a Pitino-coached team would take a genetic accident of the kind that I have yet to observe in their athletic abilities. But moving on, this comes from Richard:

Dear Eric:

It seems to me that many are either missing or ignoring the point. Pitino is not simply a person who works with the public as do bankers, CEO’s, and entertainers, etc.

The man is a PUBLIC figure and more than that he is a PUBLIC SCHOOL figure. How would this be dealt with if he were a high school principal, superintendent, or a university president for that matter? There can be differences in the standards that would be imposed if we were dealing with a private institution, but we are not.

I cannot buy the everyone makes mistakes baloney. That is private sector rhetoric for creating a survival climate for liars, cheats, white collar thieves, and embezzlers, etc. Even our crooked politicians have to pay a price for this kind of behavior…senators, representatives, governors and others. If we lower the conduct bar for public figures, we plant even more seeds for the amorality that already exists on Wall Street and throughout the private sector.

Pitino has done a fine job and would be difficult to replace, but the price of not replacing him will be huge in terms of community image and the values we embrace for our children and citizens. We need to revisit the reasons public schools were created. They were created to promote the common good and were described as common schools. The idea was that educated citizens were needed to perpetuate democracy. Schools were not established to provide a property right to citizens. Going to school is a requirement, an obligation. That is why we have compulsory education laws for children 6-16. Public universities grew from this movement and have always had a life of their own, but are nonetheless akin to this thinking…to make better citizens and a stronger democracy. School personnel have always been held to a high standard…for a time much higher than anyone. Females could not be married, could not be pregnant, and a host of other lesser notions. Great effort was made to be sure that a poor example was not projected by an educator. Should we lose sight of the impact of role models?

So, are sports programs an extension of the effort to grow better citizens or are they simply entertainment features for an influential segment of the adult community that values winning over most everything else. How important are the role models? What behaviors do we want to endorse or sensor? What message do we want to send to the kids and to the adults for that matter?

My kid could play for Pitino too if he made it to the pros and P was coaching, but not in a public school. I do not want to hang the guy, but this smart fellow allowed his arrogance to take over in making very poor choices. This is a case where “One, oh shoot! wiped out all of the atta boys.” And so we disagree on this one. My vote is for termination. This causes me to see Ramsey and Jurich in much darker light…both have been a little suspect but there are critical moments when you can get really good reads on leaders. I think this is one.

Kragthorpe has to be thinking, “maybe this will take some of the heat off me”.

Enjoy your columns. Keep up the good work.

Best wishes

P.S. If he stays, this mess and Calipari will make life unbearable for Pitino.

Keep reading for more reader reactions. There’s lots more to come, including the best email of the day . . .

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9 thoughts on “Pitino column: Reader emails

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