Pitino reports extortion charge to FBI

Published 7:20 pm Sunday, April 19, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville coach Rick Pitino says he is the victim of an extortion attempt and has forwarded the information to the FBI.

Pitino reported the threats to authorities last month, and the FBI is investigating, the university said in a statement released Saturday. The statement did not specify the nature of the threats.

‘‘I recently learned that the individual behind this extortion attempt has already gone to the media with false, defamatory and outrageous allegations in an attempt to pressure me to cave in to this scheme,’’ Pitino said.

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Pitino just finished up his eighth season with the Cardinals. Louisville won the Big East regular season and tournament titles before losing to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament regional final.

‘‘I want to make it clear that I intend to vigorously defend my reputation and the character of my family against any criminal scheme to extort money,’’ he said. ‘‘I am hopeful the media and public will recognize the slanderous nature of this direct and malicious attack.’’

A call to Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, by The Associated Press on Saturday evening was not immediately returned.