Editorial: Maybe Pitino deserved it: That’s still no excuse
Published: Monday, February 1, 2010
Updated: Monday, February 1, 2010 22:02
We've all made mistakes. Yes, it's cliche, but it's true.
Some mistakes are, obviously, more egregious than others. Count Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino in that group.
In the offseason, Pitino's life fell apart around him.
Not only did his part-time protege, part-time rival John Calipari land the prestigious University of Kentucky position and threaten Pitino's Bluegrass supremacy, but he also became embroiled in a personal scandal.
"Karen Sypher. Karen Sypher. Karen Sypher."
The name Mountaineer Maniacs not only encouraged the student section to chant at Saturday's game via the Maniac Musings handout in order to "possibly lead to a technical" at some point in the game.
It was last August when news broke that Pitino had consensual sex with Sypher in a Louisville restaurant and then paid for her to have an abortion.
Pitino is already married with five children.
Sypher was ultimately charged with attempting to extort Pitino.
It was an ugly mistake – or rather, series of mistakes – which Pitino will be forced to live with the rest of his life. His legacy is all but tarnished.
On the same day the Mountaineer Maniacs handed out T-shirts imploring classy behavior from student fans, the organization cast the worst mistake of a man's life back into Pitino's face. Repeatedly. On national television.
Cassie Werner, director of the Mountaineer Maniacs, told The Daily Athenaeum the student section helped the team come back from a late deficit to win the game.
"We did that without the unnecessary language," she said. "Moments like that, when our team pulls out a victory with the crowd rallying behind them, really make you proud to be a Mountaineer."
Ultimately, were the effects of the "Karen Sypher" chants any different than crude language used in the past?
Both displays are juvenile, disrespectful and hypocritical to what it means to be a WVU student, especially following a week of pleas for better behavior from WVU administration and coaches.
Yet, the chants continued, 10 times by the end of the game, despite repeated hand gestures by head coach Bob Huggins to stop.
Pitino made his bed. He'll sleep in it the rest of his life. While our ability to judge another's actions is another debate entirely, few have the right to punish.
The actions displayed against Pitino Saturday went above and beyond any normal, rowdy treatment of an opposing player or coach.
It wasn't just playful fun to get into an opponent's head. It was meant to hurt and to punish, which goes beyond what anyone would consider reasonable.
Pitino is no patron saint.
He's caused a lot of consternation among Mountaineer fans in the past. He's undoubtedly hurt those closest to him.
But he still deserved better from us.