This was the day that Louisville supporters and scandal followers — and likely Rick Pitino himself — have been waiting on. Sort of.
Pitino took the stand as a witness for the United States side of things today in the Karen Sypher extortion trial in Louisville. Under direct examination, Pitino testified that Sypher’s motivation “from the day this all started…was to blackmail me.” He described how he received a pair of voicemail messages from an unknown caller alleging that he had raped Sypher, and that he subsequently met with her to try to identify the caller. Pitino added that Sypher even accused him of making the phone calls as a ruse. This information comes from coverage by Louisville’s Courier-Journal, but we’ve got to give props to Matt Jones and KentuckySportsRadio.com, here, too. Jones, a lawyer himself, is there watching the whole thing, tweeting updates, and updating his site with a nightly breakdown and analysis that all but puts you in the courtroom.
By far the most popular soundbite to emerge from the day’s testimony was when Pitino revealed that, after Sypher initiated their sexual encounter by undoing his fly and asking Pitino if he had a condom (he didn’t), the whole thing lasted “no more than 15 seconds.” We’ll not touch that one with, say, a shot-clock joke, but suffice to say that there have been some outstanding resultant tweets (we’re lookin’ at you, @DanWetzel and @ClayTravisBGID).
The reason we added the “sort of” above is because Pitino only had to go through direct examination today. We’re sure he relished the chance to take the stand and clear his name (even though the trial is really about whether or not Sypher attempted to extort him) as best as he can, but if there are going to be fireworks, they’re likely to come tomorrow when Pitino faces cross-examination by the defense. According to the breakdown from Jones/KSR linked above, the defense has been effective at crossing potentially damaging witnesses so far, so this could get heated. Consider, however, what we know about Rick Pitino’s coaching style. Above all, he’s a preparation coach. His biggest asset is how much work he invests in getting ready for an opponent ahead of time, and even though he’s surely been prepped like mad for this by his attorneys already, now he’s got another full evening to get ready for the hardest part. If the defense is able to put together a jewel of a cross-examination, though, it will also be interesting to see if the US can stack him back up on re-direct.
Though no infectious agents have ever been discussed in this whole business and we can assume none ever came into play, that description of the brief event by Pitino reminds us of one of the several great lines from Band of Brothers: “Remember, boys…flies spread disease. So keep yours closed.”