Louisville prez weighed options before decision on Pitino

Published 2:34 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville President James Ramsey says he considered several options to deal with the scandal surrounding Rick Pitino before telling the coach to publicly apologize, according to a memo released to The Associated Press Monday.

Pitino apologized Thursday, a day after police documents were made public that said the coach acknowledged having sex in 2003 with a woman accused of later trying to extort him. He also said he gave Karen Cunagin Sypher $3,000 after she said she was pregnant and seeking an abortion.

Pitino said he was ‘‘sorry for that indiscretion six years ago’’ and that he would continue to coach at the university as long as he was physically able and as long as they wanted him.

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Ramsey said in the memo sent to faculty and staff on Thursday that Pitino deserves a second chance.

‘‘I considered a wide range of options in dealing with Coach Pitino’s errors in judgment and their impact on our university,’’ Ramsey wrote in the memo. ‘‘In the end, I told Coach Pitino that he needed to publicly apologize to the university community for his actions. He has done that.’’

It was not clear what other options Ramsey considered. Asked what they were, university spokesman Mark Hebert said the letter would have to speak for itself. ‘‘I think that’s all that President Ramsey wanted to say.’’

Sypher has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to the FBI and attempting to extort up to $10 million from Pitino.

Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, said he had not seen the memo and did not want to comment on what other options were considered.

‘‘That was last week, so it’s done and just don’t have anything to comment further,’’ Pence said.

Pence has said the $3,000 was for health insurance for Sypher, who told him she was going to get an abortion but had no coverage.

Some anti-abortion groups have called on Ramsey to fire Pitino because Sypher’s pregnancy was terminated.

Student body president O.J. Oleka said it would be ‘‘a shame’’ if Ramsey had fired Pitino.

‘‘I feel his apology was exactly what we needed, and now we need to move forward,’’ Oleka said in an e-mail message.