The move came one day after federal prosecutors accused two unnamed Cardinals coaches of directing money provided by the university's apparel partner, Adidas, to two high school prospects, and three months after Pitino and his program were sanctioned by the NCAA for a scandal in which prostitutes were provided to players and teenage recruits. Court papers didn't name the schools but contained enough details to identify them as Louisville and Miami.
When FBI assistant director Bill Sweeney said, "Our investigation is ongoing, and we are now conducting interviews", it was as much a warning for coaches operating in the future as it was a promise to uncover misdeeds in the past. No one from U of L has been criminally charged. Interim President Greg Postel confirmed that Pitino is now on unpaid leave.
It uncovered a scheme in which college coaches allegedly took bribes to steer top players to certain advisers, managers and even a suit-maker who stood to make a fortune if those players signed with the National Basketball Association. Person and Evans were suspended, and Bland was placed on administrative leave.
Pitino's lawyer, Steve Pence, said Pitino was "effectively fired".
Person, the associate head coach at Auburn, is accused of accepting $91,500 from an unnamed financial adviser who was cooperating as an informant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
While in that case the NCAA accepted Pitino's explanation that he had no knowledge of the actions of the assistant found to be responsible, it nonetheless found that he had failed in his broader obligation to monitor his staff. Pitino and Louisville have disputed that conclusion, which led to his suspension, pending appeal, for the first five games of Atlantic Coast Conference play this season.
U of L did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "We're unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more".
"The picture painted by the charges is not a pretty one", said Joon H. Kim, the acting US Attorney for the Southern District.
"It's not just selling fewer T-shirts in the bookstore", said David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute.
The allegation that a recruit, which a source told ESPN was Brian Bowen, took $100,000 from a group that included Adidas executive Jim Gatto to steer him to Louisville is part of a government investigation, not an NCAA one.
"No one swings a bigger d-- than" Pitino at Adidas, Augustine said, according to the complaint.
Federal investigators announced charges Tuesday in a wide-scale corruption scheme in college basketball.
In addition to Person, who is an associate head coach at Auburn University, the arrested coaches include Lamont Evans, an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University; Emanuel "Book" Richardson, an assistant coach at the University of Arizona; and assistant coach Tony Bland of the University of Southern California. He says the coaches exploited the "trust of the players they coached and recruited".
Better that than dealing with those three letters sending shivers through college basketball - now more than the four. Gatto ultimately agreed to pay Bowen's family $100,000, the complaint alleges, in installments funneled through middlemen, including Dawkins, who was among those arrested this week.
He said decisions on other coaches will be made by an interim athletic director.
The Department of Justice has brought charges in a wide-ranging college basketball bribery and fraud case. Others included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major global sportswear company.
Tuesday's revelations all but ensured a renewed debate about two rules central to college basketball. He was allegedly given the payments in exchange for his help in steering Auburn's basketball players toward services provided by the FBI's informant and a man named Rashan Michel, a former NCAA and NBA referee who owns an Atlanta clothing store that specializes in bespoke suits and counts numerous NBA and National Football League athletes as clients.
"The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisers, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so".