Adidas decided to cut its longstanding ties with former basketball coach Rick Pitino in the wake of a federal bribery investigation rocking college basketball.
In the last month, 10 men — including university coaches and top Adidas executive James Gatto — were named in a federal investigation into the widespread use of bribes to influence college athletes’ choice schools and shoe sponsors. While 65-year-old Pitino was not one of the people named in the investigation, the sports program that he headed at the University of Louisville was under investigation and resulted in Pitino being first put on unpaid leave and, as of October 16, fired following a unanimous vote by the school’s athletics board.
A WFPL reporter uncovered court filings where prosecutors argued that “an Adidas employee arranged for $100,000 and ongoing monthly payments allegedly funneled through a third-party company for a high school player, who is currently a freshman athlete at the school.”
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In August, Adidas renewed its annual deal with the university, which some analysts estimated to get Pitino more than a million dollars a year.
Not long after the decision by the University of Louisville’s athletics board was announced, Adidas also said that it has terminated its contract with Pitino.
“In light of the decision by the University of Louisville, Adidas has terminated its personal services agreement with Rick Pitino, effective immediately,” Adidas spokeswoman Maria Culp told Footwear News in a statement, declining any additional comments.