Rick Pitino: NCAA ruling to remove championship ‘unjust’

Rick Pitino had a press conference at a New York law firm on Wednesday to address the recent NCAA ruling to revoke wins, records and the 2013 national championship won by Louisville, based on the StripperGate scandal that rocked the university a couple years ago.

As he’s done in the past, Pitinio expressed his disappointment in the NCAA’s judgement.

“To say I’m disappointed with the NCAA’s appeals ruling is a gross understatement,” Pitino said during a news conference held at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig in Manhattan, per ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.

Pitino also downplayed the importance of the originating scandal that led to all this in the first place.

“Did a few of [the players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes they did,” Pitino said. “But that had nothing to do with an extra benefit. That had nothing to do with helping their eligibility or performance in winning that championship. Those parties did not enhance our players’ ability to win a national championship or go to a Final Four.”

Then he talked about the ruling to remove the championship banner.

“How do you take down a championship? They’ve earned it,” he said. “You need to get an injunction. The NCAA, they have total autonomy. I’m sure Notre Dame is not going to let it happen, and neither should the University of Louisville, in my opinion. I wish I could do it. Unfortunately, I’m defenseless.”

He denied having any knowledge of the “reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory.”

Pitino was fired last year when another scandal broke involving fraud. He denied any knowledge or involvement on that front, as well, saying “If I hired the wrong people at times, I take full ownership and responsibility for everyone I’ve hired. I’ve hired some awfully great ones.”

He concluded by saying, “…what the NCAA did, what this committee did, hurts. And it takes time to get over that hurt. I do really think it’s unjust. But again, I fully take ownership for the people I hired.”