Revisiting the Louisville Stripper Scandal That Tarnished Rick Pitino's Legacy Forever

Rick Pitino
Former Louisville and current Iona men's basketball coach Rick Pitino | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There's no doubting Rick Pitino's greatness as a college basketball coach. Since the NCAA Tournament's expansion to 64 teams in 1985, Pitino is one of just five coaches to reach the Final Four five times. He also won the 1995 national title at Kentucky as well as the now-vacated 2013 national title at Louisville.

His legacy, however, is complicated and will be forever tarnished by the Louisville stripper scandal, which involved basketball staff members hiring dancers to strip and have sex with recruits. That resulted in major punishments for the the Louisville program.

The Cardinals were required to vacate 123 wins, the 2012 Final Four and 2013 national title in addition to suffering recruiting and postseason limitations.

This statement released by Pitino in 2017 reflected the stance he tried to take throughout the investigation and onslaught of criticism. He argued he was uninvolved and unaware of any wrongdoing associated with his program.

But this didn't cut it for most of the college basketball world. As the head coach, these are the kind of things you're supposed to be aware of. Part of your job is to keep tabs on your players' whereabouts and decisions in order to keep them in line and out of trouble. For this reason, Pitino was heavily criticized by media members and the NCAA for failing to monitor his program.

Pitino did what many other sports figures have done when they have been involved in scandals -- he laid low, stayed out of the spotlight, and then slowly and cautiously returned to the sports world.

He's now the head coach at Iona and has gone on an impressive recruiting run since he landed the job. However, regardless of his success there or at any program after, this scandal will follow him forever and that won't change.