Adidas announced on Monday that it had terminated its agreement with former Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino, who was dismissed by the university the same day in the wake of allegations of widespread corruption and bribery. The coach responded on Tuesday by filing a lawsuit against Adidas in the Western District of Kentucky that seeks compensatory damages for harm done to his career and reputation.
Adidas executive Jim Gatto was arrested in September as part of an FBI crackdown on bribery in college basketball, and is alleged to have used company money to woo top recruits to Adidas-affiliated schools, including Louisville. These players were expected to sign endorsement contracts with Adidas upon turning pro.
The tort claim maintains that Pitino, who was the head coach at Louisville from 2001 until his 2017 firing, was not involved in and did not condone "these outrageous practices." Pitino's lawsuit alleges that the public disclosure of these practices by Adidas made it appear that he was complicit in them, thus damaging his public standing and career.
"This lawsuit is about more than just money; it is Coach Pitino's vehicle for proving that he had nothing to do with Adidas' outrageous, wrongful, and illegal conspiracy," the filing reads.
Pitino made millions from his post at Louisville, a top Adidas school. According to a report from the Louisville Courier-Journal, 98 percent of the money Adidas paid the school went directly to the former head coach. For the 2015-16 season, for example, the Courier-Journal reports that Pitino raked in $1.5 million of Adidas money.