Pitino Sorry for 'Indiscretion,' Gets to Keep His Job

Louisville president calls coach in sex scandal a "role model" for young people.

Aug. 12, 2009— -- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said he's sorry for an "indiscretion" six years ago -- a reported sex act with a woman on a restaurant table -- and said he will keep coaching "as long as they'll have me."

University president James Ramsey then issued a statement saying the university was "ready to move on."

"Rick Pitino is the University of Louisville's basketball coach," Ramsey said. "He has been a role model for countless young people and a positive influence on this community."

Though Pitino gave few details of the "indiscretion" when he addressed the media Wednesday, he said he admitted what he did to his family and to the university and that he tried to handle the problem the same way he advises players to handle adversity.

"When you have a problem, if you tell the truth, the problem becomes part of your past," he said. "If you lie, it becomes part of your future.

"For as long as they'll have me, I'm going to coach here," he added. "I'm not a spring chicken, but I'm certainly not over the hill. I intend on recruiting the best athletes, the best people for this program."

According to sports radio host Mike Greenberg of "Mike and Mike in the Morning," Pitino will not likely part with the school for quite a while.

"He'll be absolutely fine," Greenberg told "Good Morning America" today. "Your leash is as long as your track record and his track record is enormous... He's the face of the entire university. He'll weather the storm."

Louisville President 'Ready to Move On'

The statements came a after it was reported Tuesday that Pitino had sex on a table with a woman and then gave her $3,000 to help pay for an abortion.

Ramsey said Pitino's mea culpa was "the right thing to do."

"He's clearly made errors in judgment that have come under intense public scrutiny," Ramsey said. "We can't ignore these errors in judgment, and they have saddened and disappointed me. As we try to teach our students, when you make a mistake, you admit it and right it as best you can. Coach has done that today.

"We hope this closes this chapter," Ramsey added. "We're all ready to move on."

Earlier today, Ramsey did not seem as forthcoming with his words of support.

"I look to the athletic director to advise me," he said, adding at the time that they had not had a chance to consult yet. "So, until I have more information, it's unfair for me to speculate on anything else."

That seemed to be part of a cooling pattern in statements from the school, which initially backed Pitino when it was revealed that a woman had been charged with trying to extort $10 million from the coach in connection to a brief fling that purportedly resulted in her getting pregnant six years ago.

But Pitino's case became more than an extortion case when the Louisville Courier-Journal released a police report Tuesday about the incident in which Pitino admitted that he had had sex withKaren Cunagin Sypher on a restaurant table in 2003 after everybody left and, later, apparently gave her $3,000 when Sypher said she wanted to have an abortion.

Sypher, who has since married a Pitino assistant and been charged with trying to extort $10 million from Pitino, claimed that she was raped on the restaurant table. She has pleaded not guilty to the extortion charge.

That admission prompted Ramsey to issue a statement Tuesday night that raised questions about the school's continuing support for Pitino.

"Several months ago, Coach Pitino informed me about the alleged extortion attempt," Ramsey said in a statement. "I've now been informed that there may be other details which, if true, I find surprising."

At a brief news conference today, Ramsey said, "I have nothing else to add to that at this time. I have not had the opportunity to talk with anyone else. ... I'm sure I will have more to say in the future, but now is not the time."

The fact that Pitino's contract, like that of most professional coaches, contains a clause that states he can be dismissed for "dishonesty" and "moral depravity," had raised questions about whether, despite his success as a coach, the school would keep him on.

Rick Pitino Winning Image Tarnished

The charges and Pitino's admission to the cops has tarnished his image as a clean-cut married father of five with a reputation as a championship-caliber coach. One of Pitino's closest friends is a Catholic priest, the Rev. Edward Bradley, who prays with the team and is a fixture near the Louisville bench at all their games.

The first hint of the sex scandal surfaced in April when Pitino announced he was being extorted and filed a complaint with the FBI. Sypher was indicted on charges of extortion and lying to the FBI.

She reported the rape allegation to police last month. After an investigation, the Louisville police declined to prosecute Pitino.

In the police report, Pitino, 56, admits that he met Sypher, 49, at a party in a restaurant. She asked him to call her sons on her cell phone and encourage them to work hard in school, which he did, both sides agree.

Pitino claims she returned to the restaurant at closing and the restaurant owner gave Pitino the keys and left them there. The coach claims he and Sypher had consensual sex on a table, while she claims he forced himself on her.

Sypher told police no one else was present, but Pitino claims that a former assistant, Vinnie Tatum, was in the restaurant with him.

The police report by Sgt. Andy Abbott, commander of the sex crimes unit, said Tatum told police he didn't see anything, but did hear "the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter."

The police report states that, two weeks later, Sypher called Pitino to tell him she was pregnant. They arranged to meet in a condo owned by Pitino's longtime assistant Tim Sypher, where they discussed the abortion. Sypher said she planned to get an abortion, but didn't have health insurance, according to the police report.

Pitino's lawyer Steve Pence told The Associated Press today that Pitino believed the $3,000 he gave her was for insurance, not for an abortion.

At the time, she was Karen Cunagin. But six months after meeting Tim Sypher, they married.

Rick Pitino Complaint Says Demands Escalated

She claims, however, that during that second meeting, Pitino raped her again while Tim Sypher was in another room. Pitino denied to police that there was a second sexual encounter at the condo.

The criminal complaint said Tim Sypher delivered his wife's written demands to Pitino, which included college tuition for her four children, two cars, money to pay off her house and $3,000 a month. Her demands later escalated to $10 million, the complaint states.

Karen and Tim Sypher are now involved in divorce proceedings.

According to Abbott's report, the investigating sergeant asked Sypher why she waited until after she was indicted on extortion charges to file the rape report.

"Because ... where we are, it seems like retaliation," Abbott said.

"I know it does," Sypher responded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report