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Sports Writer Michael Sokolove On Pitino And ‘The Big Business Of College Basketball'

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A year ago Wednesday, the FBI announced a sweeping criminal investigation into the alleged payment of men’s college basketball recruits.

The probe implicated some of the nation’s top basketball programs, including the University of Louisville, related to its recruitment of high school star Brian Bowen. Officials said the program took part in a scheme to pay Bowen’s family with money provided by Adidas, U of L’s sports apparel provider.

This happened as the Cardinal program was already facing severe NCAA punishment for a prostitution scandal.

No one in Louisville was been charged with a crime in the FBI case — which is set to go to trial Monday. But the case did lead to the firings of Cards’ coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich, both of whom denied knowing about any payments.

The investigation and their dismissal is the focus of a new book by sports journalist Michael Sokolove, called "The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: a Story of Corruption, Scandal and the Big Business of College Basketball." Listen to our conversation in the player above.

Solokove on Rick Pitino’s sometimes scandal-plagued tenure as U of L’s basketball coach:

“There is no leader of a $45 million enterprise in America who can really expect to keep his job after not one, not two but three transgressions, either personal or institutional, and cause grievous embarrassment to the place they work. That’s his story.”

On the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of college basketball recruiting:

“The FBI has told a great story. They have put names and words to long-rumored dirty dealing on the recruiting trail. Whether or not they get convictions or not remains to be seen.”

Sokolove will be at Carmichael’s bookstore on Frankfort Avenue Thursday to talk about and read from his book, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.

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