The Louisville men's basketball coach said video aired Wednesday of a police interview with a woman at the heart of sex and extortion scandal surrounding Pitino revived a "total fabrication of the truth." In it, Karen Cunagin Sypher accuses Pitino of sexually assaulting her, an allegation she brought to police after she was accused of millions from the coach. Prosecutors did not pursue charges against Pitino.
Against his lawyer's advice, Pitino said he felt he needed to speak out.
"Everything that's been printed, everything that's been reported, everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie," Pitino said in a hastily called news conference. "All of this has been a lie, a total fabrication of the truth."
His remarks came two weeks after a five-minute apology for an with Sypher at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. He has told police he had sex with her there. Sypher later told Pitino she was pregnant, planned to have an abortion but did not have medical insurance. He told police he gave her $3,000, money his attorney Steve Pence said was for insurance, not an abortion.
Pitino had planned to stay mum and let the case go to trial when he says "the truth will come out." Pitino still didn't discuss details of the case. But the 56-year-old married father of five said the scandal had been "pure hell" for his wife and family and fumed at the media for airing the new video that repeated claims made in a transcript released earlier.
"Enough's enough, everybody is tired of it," Pitino said. "We need to get on with the important things in life like the economy and really some crucial things in life like basketball. I admitted to you I made a mistake, and believe me I will suffer for that mistake," he added.
Pitino has kept a low profile since his apology, focusing on preparing the Cardinals for the 2009-10 season. He was involved in individual workouts on Wednesday, and updates on the Twitter pages of several players indicated nothing except another series of grueling drills.
As his news conference was carried live on television in Louisville, at least one station split the screen with Pitino talking on the left, and the police video of Sypher on the right.
The video released under the Kentucky Open Records Act shows Sypher sitting across a table from Louisville Police Sgt. Andy Abbott.
Sypher wasn't accompanied by a lawyer at the time of the videotaped interview. An attorney who was later appointed to represent her, James Earhart, said before Pitino's remarks that the release of the police video has no bearing on the federal case.
Included in the release of audio and video by police were a series of telephone messages left for Sypher by Pitino. Most of the calls are brief, with him leaving his name and asking for a call back.
In one message, though, Pitino alludes to the "very unfortunate situation."
"It's not something I can decide on," he says on the message. "I think the best thing in all scenarios is to go through with it. But, that has to be your call because (inaudible) ... I'm a high profile person ... I can't really give you any advice on this..."
It's not clear from the recording, parts of which are inaudible, what decision he's referring to. Sgt. Robert Biven said the recordings were provided to police by Sypher.
In an interview with police that was not taped but was summarized in a police report, Pitino said the encounter with Sypher was consensual. Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said Pitino's interview wasn't taped because his attorney accompanied him to the interview.
Federal prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson to order a psychological exam for Sypher, saying she may not be competent to understand the proceedings against her or assist in her own defense in the extortion case. Sypher's attorney had not responded to that request as of Wednesday.
Pitino said Louisville would continue to be a Top 10 program despite the scandal.
"It has not hurt recruiting one bit. We will still bring in Top 10 players," he said.