Whenever I hear a Badgers fan complain that the school never hires any "Big Name" coaches for its football and men's basketball teams I usually just roll my eyes. There's been some of that this year as the Badgers haven't looked that great under new football coach Paul Chryst--while Michigan was the national darlings under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh (well until that horribly botched punt that handed Michigan State a win over the Wolverines last Saturday). And there will no doubt be some high-profile names put on fans' wish list when (or if) Bo Ryan retires at the end of the hoops season. But everyone should keep in mind that often with the "big name" comes some "big problems".
Take for instance what is unfolding at the University of Louisville, where a book and an ESPN report have uncovered sex parties attended by basketball players for several years--paid for by a now-former member of Head Coach Rick Pitino's staff. This coach would reportedly contact a woman he knew to provide strippers for parties at the basketball residence hall on campus with some of the dancers also having sex with the players, with underage recruits visiting the school and with the guardians of players and recruits.
Pitino is a Basketball Hall of Famer who won a national championship at Louisville just two years ago. He is one of the highest-paid coaches in the sport. In the past, schools and NBA teams have battled it out financially to win his services. But for all of his success, Pitino is seen by many as something of a sleezeball.
This is not Pitino's first sex scandal. In fact, it's not even his first sex scandal while coaching at Louisville. In 2003, he had an affair with a woman he met in a restaurant who later claimed the Coach raped her and tried to extort $10-million from him. Pitino went to the police and admitted to consensual sex with the woman and paying for her to have an abortion. The Catholic University of Louisville kept Pitino as their head coach despite the incident.
In this latest scandal, Pitino is adopting the Sargeant Schultz mentality--"I know nothing!"--even though the report finds that the sex parties took place for a number of years, continued even after the assistant coach with the connections took a job in Kansas City and they occurred in a building that is named after Pitino's brother-in-law--who died in the 9/11 attacks. He is adamant in his public statements that he will NOT resign--and there is little talk from school officials about firing him or even punishing him in any other way.
So, Badgers fans keep Coach Pitino and his equally sleezy protégé John Calipari at Kentucky, the originator of the campus recruit sex party--Barry Switzer when he was at Oklahoma--and the various other "big name" coaches that have brought shame and embarrassment to their universities in mind when you dream about having a celebrity on the sideline. I'll take just shy of a championship and not having to apologize for my coach any day.