After finishing what I thought would be RTC’s last Rick Pitino-Karen Sypher post late last night/early this morning, I had a funny feeling that something seemed fishy about the story. I was a little confused about the dates that the Louisville Courier-Journal cited from the police reports. The dates on Sypher’s story didn’t seem to add up. I briefly mentioned it to Dan Levy, who mentioned an outline of my idea on today’s podcast. I was set to put up a sensational post (actually this very draft, but with a substantially different title). After discussing it with our legal team (rtmsf), I decided to sleep on the idea and dig around a little more before doing a definitive Pitino-Sypher post. Well after sleeping on it (and finishing a day of work and sitting through a Pitino press conference), here’s how it all breaks down:
Was Syphers Pregnant?
This was my original question. Without getting too technical, I was surprised at how close the dates were to the earliest accepted times for these tests to occur. Here’s a brief run-down of the dates and what happened according to the C-J article:
- August 1-2, 2003: The dinner at Porcini’s where Pitino and Sypher had sex. This is confirmed by both parties even if the two sides disagree on whether it was consensual.
- Approximately 2 weeks later: Sypher calls Pitino and tells him that she is pregnant and the kid is his because she claims not to have had sex with anybody else in months. Usually women don’t realize they’re pregnant until they have missed their first menstrual period, but women who are exceptionally concerned can have a positive pregnancy test (typically a urine hCG) as soon as a week after intercourse. Without getting into the variable predictive values of positive urine pregnancy tests in relation to menstrual periods, we’ll generally agree that this is a plausible explanation.
- August 26, 2003: The date of Sypher’s reported ultrasound that confirmed her pregnancy. Note that the date is a little over 3.5 weeks after the first encounter between the two. Without getting too technical about ultrasounds, there are two types: transvaginal and transabdominal. I’ll let you guess where the probe is inserted on both. The transvaginal is much more sensitive at detecting a fetus early in pregnancy and can be used to detect a pregnancy as early as 4.5-5 weeks into a pregnancy. Before the alarm bells start going off in your head like they did in mine at 1 AM last night, you should remember that a pregnancy is defined by the time since the last menstrual period. I don’t want to turn this into health education class (or discuss menstrual cycles in a women who could be perimenopausal) so let’s just assume that Sypher’s last menstrual period was 2 weeks before the night at Porcini’s. At 5.5 weeks, she now falls into the acceptable window for pregnancy, but just barely to the point where one would wonder about the legitimacy of her claim. However, if she claims to have had a transabdominal ultrasound (we’re assuming women can remember the difference in where the ultrasound probe is placed), that’s a different story as there is no way that any medical professional would rely on that to detect such an early stage of pregnancy.
Being the responsible “journalists” that we are at RTC, we contacted Andrew Wolfson, the writer of the story, and asked him if there had been any verification of the medical procedure. He told us that the abortion had in fact been confirmed in the police report. So it turns out that Sypher was in fact pregnant at the time even if the time frame surrounding her ultrasound dates and her encounter with Pitino would make a neutral observer extremely suspicious of her story.
The big story of today was Pitino’s press conference where he spoke vaguely about the incident after Andy Katz reported earlier in the day that he wouldn’t speak about it until required to do so in a legal arena. While I’m sure the state of Kentucky was glued to their televisions and radios, the entire presser wasn’t particularly notable. However, during the conference Pitino said something that caught my attention:
“If you tell the truth, the problem becomes part of your past. If you lie, it becomes part of your future.”
On the surface, this seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to say even if it sounds like something you might find in Aesop’s Fables. The reason I was so struck by this statement is because of another statement made earlier in the day by Steve Pence, Pitino’s lawyer. The key assertion that Pence made was that despite reports to the contrary, Pitino hadn’t paid Sypher $3,000 so she could have an abortion – he had, in fact, paid her that sum so that a 43 year-old pregnant woman could buy health insurance. Think about that for a second. . .
Done? Is your head hurting like mine did after hearing that statement? Pitino, the master BSer, expects us to believe that Sypher could get adequate prenatal care/management for the entire pregnancy of a middle-aged woman? I don’t even have to start into medical jargon for you to know that a pregnancy in a 43 year-old is at high-risk for complications with the most well-known being Down’s Syndrome. Obviously this kind of pregnancy isn’t going to be cheap (and the insurers know that too). How did Pitino expect Sypher to find insurance for that sum? The answer is that it’s pretty clear that he didn’t. So, why would he lie about this, a legal, if controversial in some places, procedure? Even Red Staters in the Louisville area would be willing to forgive Pitino’s indiscretions if he continues to get to Elite Eights. So who or what exactly would Pitino be afraid of? The answer may lie in a place closer to Pitino’s heart than even basketball. . .
Pitino’s Catholic faith is well-known and while he doesn’t reach Tim Tebow levels in terms of evangelism it’s pretty clear that Catholicism is a big part of his life as he reportedly “brings along close friend and spiritual adviser, the Rev. Edward Bradley — a priest in Henderson, Ky. — on many team trips”. As most of you are probably aware, the Catholic Church has taken a fairly strong and unambiguous stance against abortion. Perhaps at this point in his life, Pitino is less concerned about keeping his coaching job and jeopardizing a future trip to Springfield than he is about being granted into admission into another rather select club.