Pitino Sin Personal Not Professional

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - August 19, 2009
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Returning from three weeks of vacation is much like crawling out of bed after a long, hard weekend at Ozzfest. You’re beat, it’s tough to get going, you probably don’t smell so good and your language skills need an upgrade. But being virtually cut off from all English communication is just part of the fun when in Japan. That and covering some 600 miles on a GSX1300R Hayabusa while dreaming of pegging the needle at 290 kph, or 180 mph. Earlier models used to boast a 220 mph speedometer, but the numbers were dialed for life-saving purposes.

Known for years as the world’s fastest production motorcycle, the current model boasts 194 hp and a performance boost achievable by removing a computer chip. To quote Ferris Bueller, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” Not that its price tag compares to a 1961 Ferrari GT California. A year ago a Brit paid $10,976,000 for the object of desire for Cameron Frye’s father. A Busa will only set you back $13,000 and it’s a hell of a lot more fun in the corners and a lot cheaper to insure.

On to other news.

In his comments about the ongoing extortion case involving himself and a supposed one-night stand, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he wouldn’t surrender his position and would remain as coach for “as long as they will have me.” School president James Ramsey has taken some heat for not laying a heavy hand on the well-traveled and popular coach, saying he stands behind Pitino and has so far limited his comments to general words of encouragement.

Which should surprise no one, since the criminal investigation into Pitino’s playmate continues.

There is no doubt that Pitino committed a major personal and matrimonial miscalculation when he engaged in a post-meal hookup with Karen Cunagin Sypher at a Louisville restaurant six years ago. That a year later she married the team’s equipment manager just adds to the juicy details that will no doubt be revisited at every road game this season.

According to his contract, the university can fire Pitino with cause if he lies to his bosses or commits acts of moral depravity. He also can get canned for damaging the school’s good name.

Proving the last charge would be quite difficult since major university athletics can be a den of dishonesty and self-involvement seen nowhere outside of the halls of Congress. Pitino could offer his own salary as evidence of the school’s lack of institutional purity.

In 2007, Pitino signed a contract extension upping his salary from $1.65 million to $2.25 million, in addition to loyalty bonuses of $3.6 million in 2010 and 2013.

Pitino’s actions may make him a deviant, but it does-n’t mean he’s violated the terms of his contract. His sin was personal, not professional. Ethics clauses rarely ban post-meal hookups with classy dames willing to turn the buffet line into a cozy sofa in the champagne room.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t take some heat even from Cardinals faithful.

Pitino is a Catholic coach in a Catholic town. Over the years he has publicly promoted his family and faith, and has been embraced for both. Getting caught up in a sex scandal that may include money paid for an abortion - a big no-no with the church - may not play too well in a religiously bound community even if he is, in fact, the victim. But he’ll be fine so long as he keeps winning. Getting busted for adultery may be embarrassing, but when it comes to platforms for damnation, it pales in comparison to the sin of defeat, or wearing a finely tailored suit that conjures up images not of John Wooden but of a wealthier Tony Manero.

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