The Wall Street Journal: Fired basketball coach Rick Pitino sues Adidas over bribery scandal

Former University of Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino on Tuesday sued Adidas AG, alleging that the sportswear company tarnished the storied coach’s reputation by implicating him in an alleged conspiracy to funnel bribes to a Louisville recruit.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kentucky, came a day after Louisville formally fired Pitino and three weeks after the Louisville program was entangled in a wide-ranging criminal probe into alleged corruption in Division I college basketball. The lawsuit’s allegations mark a dramatic collapse of relations between Adidas and Pitino, the coach of one of the most prominent basketball programs in the country.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Adidas ADS, -0.65%   said Pitino’s lawsuit “is clearly a reaction to his termination yesterday and is without merit.”

Federal prosecutors in New York last month charged 10 people in alleged schemes to bribe coaches and players’ families to draw top recruits to certain schools, agents and financial advisers. Although nobody from the Louisville basketball program was charged, the criminal complaints outlined an alleged scheme in which an Adidas executive worked with others in the summer of 2017 to funnel money to a top Louisville recruit, with encouragement from Pitino and his coaching staff. Prosecutors say Pitino wanted the recruit to attend Louisville, while Adidas in turn hoped to secure the player’s loyalty to the company.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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