University of Louisville men’s basketball coach, Rick Pitino has caused quite a stir with his recent sexual encounter ala carte that seems like a real life cross between “Fatal Attraction” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Pitino, a married and allegedly religious man, had consensual sexual relations with Karen Cunagin Sypher in a Louisville restaurant on Aug. 1, 2003. To make matters even more complicated, Pitino’s sexual encounter occurred 8 months prior to Sypher marrying Coach Ricky’s confidant and best friend, Tim Sypher.
Thereafter, the story took on unbelievable dimensions in the form of a credibility contest. In July, 2009, Sypher filed a complaint with the Louisville Police claiming that Pitino raped her at a restaurant on August 1, 2003 and sexually assaulted her weeks later. Sypher, however, made these allegations after she was indicted in May, 2009 on federal charges of trying to extort money from Pitino for silence. Sypher had quite a laundry list of demands of Pitino-college tuition for her 2 children, 2 cars, money to pay off the mortgage on her home, the sum of $3,000 per month and last, but not least, the sum of $10 million dollars. In the name of “teamwork,” Tim Sypher, Pitino’s equipment manager and husband of Karen Sypher, allegedly delivered the demand list to Pitino.
Pitino denied Sypher’s claims that Pitino raped her and Pitino was not prosecuted because of the lack of evidence. Pitino, however, did acknowledge that he gave Sypher the sum of $3,000 for an abortion when she claimed that she did not have health insurance and was pregnant with Coach Ricky’s baby.
Luckily for Coach Ricky, Sypher was an exhibitionist at heart. Apparently, Sypher did not protest when Pitino’s voyeurist assistant and driver, Vinnie Tatum, stayed in the restaurant while Pitino and Sypher had sex. In fact, it was Vinnie who saved Pitino by reporting to FBI Agent David Beyer, while investigating Sypher’s alleged extortion bid, that he had been present in the restaurant on the night of the sexual episode between Pitino and Sypher. Tatum told Beyer, that “he only heard the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter.”
Pitino has quite a reputation in the basketball realm. Pitino is the only men’s coach in NCAA history to lead three schools, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville, to the Final Four. Now the question is whether Pitino will retain his position and ability to collect a $3.6 million bonus under the terms of his contract if he is still coach on July 1, 2010 . The contract allows Pitino to be fired for acts of “moral depravity,” or for being dishonest with the University or for generating disparaging media publicity, but only if it is caused by “wilful conduct that could objectively be determined to bring (the) employee into public dispute or scandal.”
An extramarital affair would most likely not cause termination or there would be very few coaches in the league (or politicians in office, for that matter). So the legal inquiry, if any, will most likely center around whether Pitino was forthcoming with the University about the abortion issue. The University will also review whether Pitino’s conduct was wilful because there is no question that he was involved in a scandal and has generated less than favorable media publicity.
Here is the lesson and reality. All the legal language in the world about moral turpitude will not cause Coach Ricky to lose his job. Why– you ask? Because Pitino wins basketball games and that is ultimately much more important than teaching students and players about morals, honesty and trust. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe the University of Louisville will at least make “Fatal Attraction” a mandatory freshman requisite in honor of Coach Ricky. Perhaps, just the sight of the bunny boiling in the pot will deter future Pitino-esque conduct.