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The sports world hones in on Rick Pitino

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There might not be a bigger Tiger Woods fan right now than the face of Louisville athletics.

While the local reaction to this quagmire seems to be mostly a mixture of defense and forgiveness (Louisville fans) and amusement and ridicule (Kentucky fans), the national sports media, for the most part, appears far more disgusted and up-in-arms.

First, Christine Brennan at USA Today.

How does Pitino ever punish a player for violating a team rule? How does he offer life lessons to his players? How does he walk onto a stage to give one of his patented motivational speeches without being laughed right off of it?

Basically, how does Rick Pitino continue being Rick Pitino, especially when we're not entirely certain just who that person is anymore?

Is he the deeply religious Catholic husband and father of five who often brings along a priest on road trips for his Louisville men's basketball team?

Or, is he the man who has admitted to having consensual sex back in August 2003 with a woman, Karen Sypher, who is not his wife after an evening at a Louisville restaurant, then giving her $3,000 to either pay for an abortion (what the police say Pitino told them) or to pay for her health insurance when she said she was going to have an abortion (what Pitino's lawyer now says he did)?


Pitino said over and over during a televised appearance Wednesday evening that he is sorry and plans to stay at Louisville "as long as they'll have me."

Pitino is a beautiful speaker, but his choice of words was a mistake. He put in the university's hands what rightly should be in his. Here is a man of deep faith who knows he has failed badly. Here is a man who didn't play by his own rules. In his illustrious career, he has suspended players for far less.

Pitino knows what he did was wrong and he knows how lessons are learned. If he doesn't punish himself by taking some time off, or even resigning, it will tell us a lot about not only who he is, but also about what he has become.

Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski claims Pitino is now stuck at U of L because no one in the NBA wants him.

For so long, Pitino has been about image and appearances. He demanded the personal character and discipline of those around him that he never demanded of himself. He rode underlings to drop pounds and look the part, like him. At Providence, he scheduled newspaper interviews at predawn hours to foster the belief he grinded 18 hours a day, that he was the hardest-working coach in America. His own personal life a mess, he was spitting out self-help books to tell everyone how to live life. Pitino believed he was the franchise player with the Celtics, a flawed premise of an ego drunk on power and excess.

Success is a choice, his best-selling book blared.

Apparently, so is self-destruction.

Tim Dahlberg of the AP goes on the moral attack.

He's a father of five who wears his religion so openly he sometimes has a Roman Catholic priest alongside for counsel and support. He's paid millions to coach basketball and win games, a job that includes leading impressionable young men and teaching them the value of making good judgment calls.

Yet he's drunk in a restaurant having sex with a woman he just met while his assistant listens in? He's giving her money in a secret meeting at another assistant's place after she tells him she's pregnant with his baby and plans to get an abortion?

Say what you will about Bobby Knight, but this wouldn't happen on his watch. He might throw a few chairs in a restaurant, but he wouldn't be having sex on top of one.

Pitino's apologists - and there are many - will surely try to spin the whole sordid mess and make it all about Karen Sypher. She, after all, waited six years to bring up a claim of rape to police.

Just how far they get may determine how long Pitino stays. Read her police interview and she sounds a lot more together than some have made her out to be, but there will likely be a trial on the extortion charges and new details will just as likely emerge about both her and Pitino.

Ultimately, the people in Louisville will decide for themselves whether winning means more than anything else. So will parents of recruits, who will be faced with decisions of their own about leaving their sons in the care of a man whose moral compass went awry.

They can only hope that Pitino has now learned a few lessons of his own.

Mark Story joins the ranks of those who believe now is the time for him to step down.

The main reason Pitino should step aside as Louisville head coach is that it's the right thing to do for the family he has embarrassed.

Pitino said Wednesday his wife, Joanne, and their five children "make the sun rise for me every morning."

So how can the coach in good conscience subject them to the humiliation almost certainly awaiting this coming season should he remain as head coach at Louisville?

It is a dreary fact of life that college sports crowds, especially student sections, get ruder and cruder with each passing year.

The tawdry aspects of Pitino's "indiscretion" — sex with a stranger in a restaurant after closing time; a secret meeting allegedly discussing an abortion after Sypher claimed she was pregnant — are apt to be prime fodder on road trips.

You can almost hear the elongated chants of "Karrrenn Syphhhher" when Louisville takes the floor. You can't help but wonder what objects will be hitting the court when Pitino is introduced.

Surely, Pitino won't take his family on the road with him if he coaches next season. But you can bet they are going to hear about the indignities to which the coach is being subjected.

For a coach who has always had a case of rabbit ears when it comes to the peanut gallery, it is going to be hellish.

And finally, Pitino is named the worst coaching role model in college sports here.

Condoms, people, condoms.