Rick Pitino Sex Affair Scandal Rocks College Hoops
Submitted by Matt Murai on August 12, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rick Pitino may be facing the biggest defensive challenge of his storied career.
The legendary basketball coach, who has been married for 33 years, is at the center of an affair scandal after he allegedly admitted to having sex with the woman accused of trying to extort money from him.
According to the Associated Press, the 56-year-old Pitino admitted to police that he had sex with Karen Cunagin Sypher after she approached him at the Louisville restaurant Porcini in August 2003.
Cunagin Sypher, 49, is said to have approached Pitino first, asking if he would call her sons. Some time later, Pitino and Cunagin Sypher had sex at a table after the restaurant closed and the owner left the keys to his establishment with the Louisville coach.
Pitino's former assistant, Vinnie Tatum, was also at the restaurant when the pair hooked up, telling the FBI that he heard "the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter," AP said.
Pitino told police that he got a phone call from Cunagin Sypher about two weeks later, in which she told him that she was pregnant and that she was convinced that he was the father. He reportedly suggested that they meet up at the home of his equipment manager, Tim Sypher, who in a bizarre twist later married Pitino's alleged mistress.
The coach is said to have given Cunagin Sypher $3,000 to cover the cost of an abortion. Pitino's attorney, Steve Pence, claims the payment was for "insurance, not an abortion."
"The way this has been reported in the media is not accurate," Pence told AP. "The coach has not done anything illegal."
The details behind the sex scandal were revealed after Pitino claimed in April that Cunagin Sypher was trying to extort $10 million from him. She has since pleaded not guilty to federal charges of lying to the FBI.
After being charged, Cunagin Sypher claimed that Pitino had raped her twice, the first time being at the restaurant when they first met.
When asked about the latest developments, University of Louisville president James Ramsey told AP that some of the new details were "surprising."
"Several months ago, Coach Pitino informed me about the alleged extortion attempt. I've now been informed that there may be other details which, if true, I find surprising," Ramsey said in a statement.
Whether the sex scandal leads to Pitino taking a leave of absence remains to be seen, but his attorney told ESPN that is highly unlikely.
"He doesn't deserve to be punished for something he hasn't done," said Pence. "I can see no reason why he would take a leave of absence when he was being extorted. He has done nothing illegal."
Pitino and his wife Joanne married in 1976 and have five living children. Their son Daniel died in 1987 from congenital heart failure at the age of six months.
The Sypher's are currently going through a divorce.