A Final Post on Pitino and Sypher. . . (for now)

Posted by nvr1983 on August 12th, 2009

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:

Rick Pitino may not be walking through that door (Credit: http://privacycartoonportfolio.blogspot.com/)

Rick Pitino May Not Be Walking Through That Door (Credit: http://privacycartoonportfolio.blogspot.com/)

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.

They can vouch for Karen Sypher.
They can vouch for Karen Sypher.

Health Insurance?

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. . .

A man that Pitino fears

A Man That Pitino Fears

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.

Aesop’s Fables
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Pitino’s Sex in the Champagne Room

Posted by nvr1983 on August 12th, 2009

As we mentioned in our earlier “Buzz” post about the topic, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reportedly admitted to local law enforcement officials that he had consensual sex with Karen Sypher at Porky’s Porcini’s, a local restaurant, on August 1, 2003 (perhaps in this private room) and paid $3,000 for Sypher to have an abortion (more on this later). While the fact that a powerful male figure having sex outside of his marriage isn’t that shocking, the way that this story has come about is surprising nonetheless (not unlike the recent Josh Hamilton photos).  The saga, which we first reported to the nation back in April, became a national story when Pitino accused Sypher (the estranged wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher) of attempting to extort him for cash, cars and college tuition. It simmered for a while as random speculation about an affair (what else could it be?) until Matt Jones over at Kentucky Sports Radio uncovered a photo (below) from Sypher’s indictment day featuring a sign held by one of her sons suggesting Sypher may have had an abortion.

Apparently, the Answer is $3000

Apparently, the Answer is $3000

Then, a series of strange events at Louisville earlier this summer calls into question the validity of some of Pitino’s motives in the interim.  Pitino’s son Richard had been an assistant coach at U of L, and earlier this year he was sent to fill the same position under Billy Donovan at Florida.  Now, Pitino has remarked several times over the years that he never considers “lateral” movements in terms of evaluating potential coaching jobs and he encourages his assistants never to do the same with their careers.  When Richard Pitino made basically a lateral move from Louisville to Florida around the time that all this Karen Sypher stuff started, you heard a few rumblings, wondering why Pitino’s son wouldn’t be subject to the same advice as Pitino’s other proteges. Then of course there was the strange acceptance of Ralph Willard into the fold; among coaching ranks, Willard has always been known as a guy who has the coaching chops to handle the captaincy of even the most elite programs in the sport, but simply kept his spot at Holy Cross because he enjoyed coaching there.  He is more of a contemporary than a protege of Pitino’s, and he’s a longtime member of Rick’s inner circle.  The fact that Willard would suddenly make such a strange move was certainly curious, but the matter was dismissed pretty quickly as the Sypher story developed.  Then things got relatively quiet until the news that Sypher’s sexual assault charge against Pitino had been dropped.  Once those charges were dropped, we expected the story to fade away except on Louisville’s trips to the arenas of their more vocal rivals – can you imagine the taunts that will rain down upon him in Rupp Arena and other tough environs, now?

With what we know now, can we say that these moves were just coincidences?  That Richard Pitino simply wanted to get out from under his father’s shadow and stake his own claim?  That Ralph Willard wanted less responsibility as a coach, was ready to leave a place he loved, and just wanted the chance to coach with his old friend again?  Or were these moves representative of a head coach and a father who was getting a few affairs in order?  Was Pitino getting his son Richard out of the media maelstrom he knew was probably coming, asking an old friend and protege in Billy Donovan to take care of his son and let him continue his coaching education in case these personal matters took a bad turn?  Was Pitino bringing in a high-quality coach and old friend like Willard to be his lead assistant and possibly take over Pitino’s Cardinal program in case the Sypher situation started to blow up and Pitino needed to leave the spotlight for a while?  Knowing what a calculating man that Rick Pitino is, it’s hard — in fact, next to impossible — for me to think that these moves were simply coincidental.  No, from our view – Rick Pitino knew this thing was percolating and likely to explode, and he was making sure certain valuables were protected.

Now that we have details to support (?) Sypher’s claims, we have to wonder how this story ever got so big (outside of the obvious salacious details that came out today). Reading Sypher’s account of the incident(s) [both the "confirmed" sex at Porcini's and the alleged sex at her eventual husband's apartment] it is pretty clear that her story is a little hole-y.

We'll Be Seeing More of Her (Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

We'll Be Seeing More of Her (Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Key Questions

  • Why would Sypher marry a man (Tim Sypher) who was present for the rape by Pitino that she claims happened at his apartment?
  • How and why would she trouble herself to find out that she was pregnant almost 2 weeks after their first encounter (possible, but has the strong scent of Gold Diggerism)?
  • Was she even pregnant? While the reported dates of all the exams/tests are possible, they border on the edge of being so early that one could reasonably question whether she was actually pregnant.

Given how ridiculous the entire story is one would expect that Pitino should come out of this relatively unscathed (professionally-speaking – we’re sure that Mrs. Pitino, on the other hand, has tightened that leash significantly). One might also expect the release of this information to be enough to kill any potential civil suit that Sypher has, but judging by her reported history in the article we’re guessing this isn’t that last we will hear of her. If this story and the Ben Roethlisberger story have taught guys out there anything (other than ESPN reports what it wants when it wants), it is this:  if she looks or acts a little crazy and you’re a celebrity worth millions, just walk away because there are plenty of other women out there who won’t make your life a living hell after one encounter.

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Buzz: Pitino Admits to Affair With His (Alleged) Extortionist

Posted by rtmsf on August 11th, 2009

Blockbuster news out of Louisville tonight, as the Courier-Journal is reporting that Rick Pitino admitted to police that he had consensual sex with Karen Sypher, the woman who allegedly tried to extort him for houses, cars and money.  The police reports show that Pitino had sex in a restaurant (all class, Rick!) with Sypher on August 1, 2003, and later gave her $3000 for an abortion as a result of that tryst.  Sypher has since alleged that Pitino raped her on that occasion as well as one other time, but prosecutors have to date resisted bringing charges on the matter, citing issues of Sypher’s credibility.  While the federal extortion charges remain against Sypher, we wonder whether this revelation might swing public opinion in Louisville more in favor of Sypher.  Probably not – after all, Pitino has two straight Elite Eights under his belt.

Follow-up Post: Pitino’s Sex in the Champagne Room

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