Sypher Extortion Trial Against Pitino Begins Today In LouisvillePosted by jstevrtc on July 26th, 2010
As if the drama of conference realignment and the fate of the play-in games wasn’t enough for your summer, the college basketball world now turns a reluctant eye to Louisville, where the Karen Sypher extortion trial begins today. It’s been about seven years since whatever happened between Sypher and Rick Pitino in that Italian restaurant happened, and the sorting out of this whole mess started earlier this morning in the U.S. District Court in Louisville. The trial is scheduled to last a couple of weeks.
In addition to the extortion charge, Sypher is accused of retaliating against Pitino after he went public with the news of the single-night affair, and then lying to federal agents about it. The linked article above from Louisville’s Courier-Journal describes how, even though it might seem like prosecutors have a pretty sweet breakaway dunk in this business, they’re not making the mistake of just assuming a win. They’ll have to prove everything we’ve been hearing about in the media — the false rape claim, the lies to federal prosecutors, the exchange of money and cars, and so on — to get a victory, here.
That Sypher may have had some experience with this extortion stuff even before her dealings with Pitino doesn’t help her cause. And the very first page of the Courier-Journal’s article notes how prosecutors will introduce evidence that Sypher had sexual relations with both of the men whom she used to make the actual threats against Pitino, including performing “a sexual act” for one of them — a guy named Lester, and honestly, how can there not be a guy named Lester involved in all of this? — on the very same day that he made the initial threatening call to Pitino. Also, according to this update from the Courier, in Sypher’s attorney’s opening statement, he alleges that Pitino “suggested something involving concrete and a river” after Sypher said that she didn’t want an abortion. Feel that? That’s your skin crawling.
While it will be interesting (and a little gross) to watch the events play out in Louisville over the next two weeks, we’re even more intrigued by the possible effects this could have on the Cardinals when the time comes to actually play basketball again. Will Pitino’s players respect him as a coach or look at him more as a man who dishonored his wife? Will the added media attention (because even though the trial might be over in two weeks, this all won’t just end in two weeks) be a distraction from basketball? Will these legal issues and the increased rumblings in the city of Louisville about the absence of a national title under Pitino have him wondering if it’s time to move on? Or will his players rally behind their coach, buy into his system more than ever, and return Louisville to the later reaches of the NCAA Tournament? If he makes any statement to the media over the next two weeks, be ready for Pitino to rhapsodize about how these are the greatest days of his life and how he’s never been less stressed than he is right now. Which means that he’s in hell, and can’t wait to get back to basketball. Can you blame him?