The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball

Michael Sokolove. Penguin Press, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-56327-0
Using the tarnished legacy of former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino as an anchor, Sokolove (Drama High) provides a lucid account of large-scale corruption in college basketball. In 2017, Louisville’s program was one of seven initially named by the FBI in an investigation of money laundering, bribery, and wire fraud involving shoe and apparel manufacturer Adidas. Since then, at least a dozen additional schools have been named in the investigation, which focuses on illegal payments made through a network of coaches and fixers to athletes and their families as encouragement to attend colleges with Adidas-branded sports programs. In the aftermath, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich and Pitino were fired, although Pitino claims he is innocent of any wrongdoing and told Sokolove, “I’ve been assassinated.” Sokolove also digs into an unscrupulous subculture in which recruiters act as so-called “advisors” to players and their families in return for the potential of a big payoff. Such scenarios have destroyed young careers, Sokolove writes, including that of Brian Bowen Jr., a recruit to Louisville who was caught in the scandal’s crosshairs; after it was discovered that his family accepted payments for him to enroll at Louisville, he was kicked out of the program. Sokolove provides a richly detailed, enlightening account of college sports. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 09/25/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-399-56329-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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