There are many types of leadership. I tend to think of the best leaders as those who lead by example and try to make things easier for everyone else. In sports, leading by example is generally not seen as leading. To be a leader in any sport, it seems like yelling is the most important thing. It is not enough to handle your responsibilities and help your teammates, you have to show that you are leading … loudly. While Steve Kerr and Brad Stevens may be turning over this type of leadership as successful coaches who don’t seem to scream and yell (at least that is their courtside demeanor), there are still plenty of examples of the bully coach. I am not sure if Rick Pitino would qualify as a bully coach, but he is not showing much leadership in his handling of the current scandal at Louisville.
I am not sure how shocked (as CBS called them) anyone should be by the allegations that recruits were set up with escorts to facilitate their needs. Didn’t anyone see He Got Game? When it comes to college basketball and recruiting, I’d believe just about anything. There has to be something that we have been missing when it comes to the ways that schools get big time players to matriculate. It can’t be all milk and cookies.
Truth be told, I have always found Pitino somewhat skuzzy (in other words, slightly skuzzier than average college basketball coach) and his reactions to the scandal have reinforced my feelings. [John Calipari may be the same way, but he is more charming. Yet, one has to wonder just how he consistently recruits the best players.] Initially, Pitino – like the rest of the college basketball media –was shocked by the allegations. Shocked! How could this possibly happen to the fine, upstanding gentlemen who attend Louisville to be educated and play basketball, but mostly to be educated?
Pitino then promised not to resign. Here’s what he wrote on his website: “I will not resign and let you down. [Who, me?] Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years but that time is not now. I do not fight these accusations by others but rather turn the other cheek. Couldn’t do it at 33, but at 63 it’s the wise thing to do. Let’s let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball.” Pitino is turning the other cheek! What he is saying is that no allegations are going to keep him from coaching. Basketball is simply too important.
Seeing as Pitino is completely blameless, he had to find someone to point the finger at. That turned out to be a graduate assistant named Andre McGee who had moved on to be an assistant coach at UMKC. McGee apparently had direct dealings with the madam from the escort service. The Kangaroos are now down one assistant coach, who I am sure was considered a master recruiter. What wouldn’t McGee do to get a player to a school?
Lastly, Pitino decided not to attend ACC media day “on the advice of counsel.” He doesn’t want the focus to be on his school’s scandal, but on basketball. The Cardinals are sending Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, who joined the team as graduate transfers from Cleveland State and Drexel. In other words, the school is sending two players who were not recruited to Louisville as freshmen. You connect the dots.
So, Pitino – the leader of the Louisville basketball program – has basically said he won’t accept responsibility, will surely find who is responsible, and will not answer any questions about the scandal. This is not a leader.
What would I have liked to seen from Pitino? Perhaps anything but what he actually did. He seems to be mocking the system and clearly knows that there will probably be no repercussions for him. I don’t really care about NCAA rules or that the players enjoyed crazy sex parties. I’d just like the little man in Louisville to stand up and be held accountable for what happens in his program.