clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Transcript: Rick Pitino interview with Terry Meiners

New, comments
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

You can listen to the entire interview here

Does today's information change your thinking on whether you need to resign?

First of all, players have come to play for me, and -- the only comment that I've made is that I know nothing about any of this. So I don't know what resigning would accomplish. I think that's the cowardly way out, if I resign now without coaching two 5th-year players and the other players who came to play for me. What does it do for the program if the head coach just runs away? I don't understand why you asked me that.

Because the community holds the university up as a crown jewel and I think people are shocked by these allegations. They are still allegations, and--

So if I resigned they would feel better about it?

I know you're in a tough position now. The president issued a statement earlier today where he talked about Tom Jurich being an exemplary employee and running an exemplary program, but he did not mention you in the statement and I think a lot of people took pause at that, saying "why wouldn't he say something about coach?"

Well I can't answer that, Terry. You know, 26 years ago, Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. And Dr. Rozelle, C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to change around the image, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that. And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late and not early, consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint. This is obviously not about being late, not about a person working hard, this is about things that are disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping. But, unfortunately, I had no knowledge about any of this. Don't believe in it. It's sickening, the whole thing. But I'm thinking of my 13 players, I'm thinking of our program, and I'm sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me, but that's something that I cannot control.

If any of these accusations prove to be true, have you thought at all about withdrawing Louisville from one or more NCAA Tournaments?

No, we're just getting the facts together, Terry. We don't know what the facts are. I mean, that's why we hired Chuck Smrt, to get to the bottom of this. I just can't fathom the motive behind any of this. That's what's keeping me up at night: the motive. You're not going to get players by doing that type of thing. So what's the motive? It's driving me crazy. I don't understand any of it, and it's -- no, we haven't discussed that. Right now, we're trying to find out exactly what went on. And then I'd like to find out why it went on ... more than anything else. The why is very important to me.

Is it possible that someone saw something and was terrified to say something to you?

You know, I can't answer that question, Terry, because I don't know the answer. I do know if any person walked in that dormitory that, in any way, whether it was a stripper or whatever you want to call these people, within 10 seconds that person would be on a plane home. Unfortunately, nobody came to me and I had no knowledge of it. And the place that it happened -- you know I built that dormitory in my brother's name to stand the test of time and honor him. And it just sickens me that this so-called happened in that dormitory.

You knew Andre McGee as well as anyone outside of his parents, so how could he do this under your watch? What have you said to him?

I've only had one conversation with him, Terry and to be honest with you, I don't know if he told me the truth or not. As things come out, it may not have been the truth of what he told me. And that's something that, they asked me not to speak to him again. I gave him a strong piece of my mind. He told me something that, and I can't really say, but it's not what came out in that book. The facts have to come out right now.

I look at Andre McGee, and he's got two beautiful parents, he's well-educated with a Master's degree ... I just don't understand the motive behind any of it, Terry. He was a great kid when he played here; played hard, did all the right things. I don't know where he went wrong this, it just doesn't make any sense to me. The whole thing makes no sense. At all. You're not gonna get players doing things that way. What was behind this? If it did happen, why did it happen? What was the reason? An educated person can't think that he's going to get a recruit by strippers coming in. So I don't get it. I just don't get the whole thing.

You're at the University of Louisville, you don't need any help with those artificial means to get players. This is one of the premier programs in the nation.

But this guy Jaquan Lyle said that a gist of the escort allegations from the book is correct. That is a source from the NCAA to CBS Sports today.

Well that's great that we have the NCAA doing that. Isn't that great? You're saying that it's coming from the NCAA?

A source, according to the CBS report ... it's online there today

Well isn't that great? You know, that's just terrific.

Because the NCAA interrogated Jaquan Lyle, as they did Antonio Blakeney. And we haven't heard anything about what he said.

Well, I doubt seriously anybody from the NCAA would leak that type of information. It would mean their job if they did that. More than likely, Jaquan Lyle told somebody that. I seriously doubt the NCAA would, but I can't doubt anything with everything that's going on right now. I can't doubt anything anymore.

Is it possible Andre McGee is being extorted? Or is this retaliation? Or does he have a drug problem or something else that we don't know about?

Like I said, Andre McGee -- I would doubt seriously that he has a drug problem. Where he went wrong and why he went wrong, I have no idea, Terry. I just -- it just breaks my heart. He was a great kid. He had a future. He had to know that if the slightest thing leaked out about any of his actions, if they are true, he immediately would have been fired and his career would've been completely over. So that's what doesn't make any sense to me.

And by the way, Terry, he wasn't responsible for getting any recruits. If a kid committed to us, he would get zero credit, either from me, the media, newspapers or anything. Zero credit. His job was to make sure kids go to class, handle the scheduling, the logistics; all operational stuff. With recruiting, his job was to make sure they didn't get in any trouble, which is obviously the furthest thing from the truth right now.

But he gets street cred if he brings women around

Nah, Andre's not that type of person, Terry. He's really not. Something doesn't make sense here in this whole thing, Terry, because Andre's not that type of person. He's not that type of kid. You know, I'm not allowed to speak to him, I would love to. I'd fly out there and meet him face to face if they'd let me, because I want the truth. I wanna know why, I wanna know how did he get into this, I wanna know everything about it, but I'm being told I can't speak to anybody,

When a recruit comes to town, is there cash handed to a coach? Everybody wants to know where this money was coming from.

No, there's no cash involved. Andre has no access to cash, at all, from the university. If we went out to dinner, we would take the family out with the recruit. Andre would not have any money, any access to money.

Are you concerned then that someone associated or someone who wants street cred or whatever gave him some money?

The street cred thing, Terry, you know I don't even hear that type of talk from -- these are basketball coaches. Street cred? No, they're not interested. Now is there anybody else involved in this? Andre says no, but I have no idea.

Does U of L take the phones of recruits away when they visit here?

Take their phone away?

Yeah, there are parties where there are celebrities there and people have to leave their phones at the door or in envelopes.

No, we've never done that. We've never heard of that.

Terry Rozier sounded a little vague when he was asked about this. Have you spoken with Terry Rozier?

Terry, I'm not allowed to speak with anybody. I've had text messages from players, and I just say, "thank you." You know, it's not my job to find out the facts right now. You know what they're afraid of -- a coach says, "don't say anything" or something like that ... I want my players to completely talk. I want them to be honest. I sent a text to Andre McGee and kept it. I said, "Andre, I don't know why or what happened, but you tell the truth and your problems will become part of your past. You fess up to everything and you tell the truth."

And obviously that goes for everybody on your staff now, when they're questioned by the NCAA. If anybody says anything that isn't truthful, the repercussions down the road could be massive.

Everybody knows to tell the truth. I had a speech again to the players right after this book broke. I said, "this is the 100th time I've given this speech whether it was BU, Providence -- I said, you tell the truth, your problems become part of your past and you faced the music. You lie and your problems become part of your future."

I've preached that over and over and over, and unfortunately it fell upon deaf ears.

You are a planner. Are you thinking at all about self-reporting to the NCAA to say, if this happened, we want to go ahead and remove ourselves from the NCAA Tournament next year?

Terry I don't -- first of all, I don't make those decisions. That's a decision by Tom Jurich and the NCAA. If we're guilty of anything, Tom will take it, he'll get with Chuck Smrt, and they'll say ok, what would the NCAA want us to do. So I'm just going to concentrate on giving these guys the best season they could possibly have. I've got two young men that transferred as 5th year seniors to play at the University of Louisville. I've got, I said this before any of this ever came out, I've got one of the nicest group of guys in my 40+ years coaching. I'm just going to give them everything I can to make them into a great basketball team and give them a great experience.

It's not about me, it's about the team. It's always been about the team. Down the road I'll -- I'm 63-years-old, I've had a great time coaching, I love coaching, I'm more passionate today than I've ever been in the game of coaching, and I'm totally addicted to teaching basketball. But I've got to protect these guys. I'm there for them. I've always been there for them, and all my players. And I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me.

Has Tom Jurich assured you that you are still in place and that won't change?

Yes he has, but that's irrelevant to me. If Tom Jurich wants me to leave tomorrow, I will pack my bags and leave. If Tom Jurich wants me to leave at any time, I will. I'm for the University of Louisville. It's not about me. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do, at any time. It's really not about me. And if I get the feeling that Dr. Ramsey wants that, from what you said, then I would pack my bags and leave.

What message do you have for the fans who are hurt right now?

Well Terry, a lot of programs go through tough times. And tough people get through tough times, and you get through it the right way, The No. 1 thing we've got to do here is find the truth, make sure this type of behavior, if anything does come out, never happens again.

How I wasn't alerted one single time in all this, is beyond me. You know, because we -- the trainer, the manager, somebody would come to this and say this isn't right. There are a lot of things that don't make sense to me, but we've got to get to the truth, and we've got to make sure that it never happens again. But a lot of programs go through difficult times. It's not creating problems, it's solving problems that's important right now. And finding the solutions.

I'm interested in the motive, because there's no way that doing this type of behavior gets you recruits. There's no way. So it can't be to get recruits. So that's impossible, that's not even close. If anything, it stops a recruit from coming. So that's gotta be out there. Nobody with half a brain would think that.

But this report from CBS today says that somebody did something for Jaquan Lyle and so, somebody thinks it's of value. According to him.

Well if somebody thinks it's of value, they're grossly mistaken. And obviously if that person is, if any person that I'm involved with -- I've gotta take the blame for one thing, Terry: I haven't taught them well enough. And that's what I'll take the blame for.