The NCAA punished Louisville’s basketball program last week, suspending Rick Pitino for five ACC games and potentially removing its national-championship banner from 2013.
Pitino wasn’t happy. He felt the punishment was overly harsh and said that he has “personally lost a lot of faith in the NCAA.”
Steve Lappas’ response? You’re crazy.
“They should have been ecstatic,” the CBS Sports college basketball analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, referring to the Cardinals. “I think it’s ridiculous, to be honest with you, that that went on. I’m not saying Rick Pitino knew about it, but put it this way: If I was the head basketball coach and that had been going on at my program for three or four years, I would say there’s something wrong with me. How could I not know that that was going on? I deserve, in my opinion, whatever I get.”
Former staff member Andre McGee paid for stripper and escort services for recruits and players from 2010-14.
“If something happens once, okay, it can slide by you,” Lappas said. “If something happens multiple occasions over years, I would look in the mirror, me personally, as a head basketball coach and say, ‘What the heck was I doing that this could happen?’”
But isn’t it possible, Brian Jones asked, for something like this to slip through the cracks? After all, once coaches head home for the night, they don’t know what their players are doing – or, more importantly, where they’re taking recruits.
“That’s not true,” Lappas said. “You ask questions. Put it this way: Every security guard at Villanova, I knew them. These guys would call me and say, ‘Coach, I think you better watch out for this or that.’ Whether they were getting drunk on campus or whatever, guys were calling me. You can’t tell me that they don’t have that kind of a system at a place like Louisville or the other assistants didn’t know about it. Nobody knew about it except Andre McGee and all these players? I find it extremely hard to believe. I’m sorry. They should be happy with what they got.”
Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban in 2015-16, which was Damage Control 101.
“When you do that, it doesn’t affect recruiting,” Lappas said. “If you’re out of the tournament next year, nobody’s coming. Now your program’s going to suffer for three or four years. If I say I’m not going to the tournament this year, the only people that suffer are the kids on the team this year. So the whole thing, really, they got away easy, scot-free.”
Ultimately, Lappas felt Pitino’s response to the punishment was tone-deaf and delusional.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “Like I said, I would have trouble looking in the mirror, looking at my wife, looking at my kids, knowing that happened under my watch. Did Pitino know about it? I’m not saying he knew about it. I’m not saying he did or he didn’t. But I will say this: If that happened under my watch, I would look in the mirror and say, ‘Boy, what in the heck was I doing? And where was my staff? Where was everybody else?’ Only one guy knew about this? Sorry.”