Campers’ opinions of Pitino remain unchanged after potential allegations


Louisville head coach Rick Pitino yells from the sidelines during the game against the Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won the game 73-70.

Many of Kentucky’s biggest basketball fans are siting outside of Memorial Coliseum and the Wildcat Coal Lodge, waiting to get tickets to Big Blue Madness and see what the future holds for UK basketball.

However, they also can’t help but think about the past, as a former head coach at UK Rick Pitino is possibly involved with another scandal at Louisville, this time involving the FBI.

The allegations to the unnamed university and coaches, believed to be Pitino and Louisville, led U of L interim president Greg Postel to put Pitino on unpaid administrative lead, effective on Wednesday.

As the news of Pitino’s fate whirled around the Big Blue Madness campsites, many fans, who loved Pitino back when he coaches the Cats, got a chance to reevaluate their opinions of Pitino, who is now potentially facing his third scandal at U of L since taking over the head coaching job in 2001. 

“I hate to see anybody that wore the blue in any way, shape or form go down, but on the other hand, he was the coach at our rival, Louisville,” Jason Ryan, a camper on site, said. “Hopefully, time heals all wounds and maybe one day they’ll welcome him back in, I don’t look for that to happen for a while though.”

As Louisville slowly starts moving on from the Pitino-era, the Cardinals are looking for an interim men’s basketball head coach, who could be present in this year’s game in Rupp Arena.

Part of what made the Louisville and Kentucky rivalry so exciting was the battles Pitino and John Calipari underwent. Now that Pitino is potentially gone, Louisville is expected to under-go major change that could impact the rivalry

“I don’t see them having a good team for years now,” Gregory Wells, another camper on site, said. “You only have a good rivalry if you got two good teams playing.”

Another thing that could change surrounding Pitino and Kentucky is the banners Pitino left behind in Rupp Arena.

Some fans on social media are calling for Pitino’s retired jersey and championship banner he won in 1996 to come down. Those fans felt like UK should erase any memory they had of Pitino after the recent allegations were released.

However, Wells, Ryan and Earl Jones, another camper for Big Blue Madness, said they think they should stay up, regardless of what Pitino’s legacy might be. 

“That’s part of our history, whether we like it or not,” Jones said. “It’s just like Eddie Sutton, he got in trouble and all that stuff broke loose when he was here, but he’s part of the history.” 

Tim Banks, another camper, feels the same way.

“He didn’t do nothing while he was here, so they can’t take that one, I wouldn’t think,” Banks said.

It’s unlikely that those banners would ever come down, but most of the fans at Tent City feel like they should stay up, regardless of what Pitino’s future holds. 

With more developments constantly being released surrounding this massive scandal, opinions of Pitino could change in the blink of an eye, but at the moment, some of UK’s biggest fans said they feel like the Pitino legacy should remain unscratched, at least the Kentucky part of his legacy.