Louisville said that freshman forward Brian Bowen will not play for the school and that the Cardinals have parted ways with men’s basketball associate coach Kenny Johnson.
The 6-foot-7 Bowen signed with Louisville in June but had been held out of practice and games since the school announced in September that it was being investigated in a federal corruption probe of bribery in college basketball. Ten people, including four assistant coaches and Adidas executive James Gatto, were initially charged in the investigation.
The federal complaint stated that Gatto and others attempted to funnel $100,000 to a recruit’s family to gain his commitment to play for Louisville. Bowen was not named in documents, but details made clear that investigators were referring to the freshman.
The investigation has resulted in firings last month of Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. Johnson had been on paid administrative leave while the allegations were investigated.
Bowen has remained enrolled at Louisville this fall, and a statement Wednesday said the school will honor his scholarship if he stays. Louisville will give the Saginaw, Michigan, native written permission to contact another school if he wants to transfer. But his anticipated playing career there is over before ever getting started.
Cardinals teammates and interim AD Vince Tyra were complimentary of Bowen throughout the investigation that resulted in the upheaval of Louisville’s coaching staff.
“Brian has been a responsible young man for the institution since he enrolled,” Tyra said in a statement. “He has endeared himself to his teammates and the men’s basketball staff with a positive attitude during a very difficult period.”
Louisville said in separate releases that it wouldn’t comment further on Bowen or Johnson. A message left with Bowen’s Miami-based attorney, Jason Setchen, was not immediately returned.
The late arrival of Bowen, a high school All-American, was expected to bolster one of Pitino’s best recruiting classes in recent years. At the very least, Bowen was expected to help Louisville move forward from NCAA sanctions announced in June as a result of a sex scandal. His status changed soon after the investigation unfolded and had been in question until Wednesday’s announcement.
Pitino has repeatedly said that he did not participate in or have any knowledge of payments to a recruit’s family.
An affidavit presented Oct. 16 by Pitino’s legal team before Louisville’s Athletic Association – which hours later fired the Hall of Fame coach for cause after 16 seasons – stated that he “had no part – active, passive or through willful ignorance in the conspiracy described in the complaint.”
The legal team’s book of documents included a polygraph result indicating that Pitino was not deceptive in answering that he did not pay Bowen’s family or know that his family was paid.
Louisville trustees fired Jurich on Oct. 18 after 20 years as AD.
Johnson and Cardinals assistant coach Jordan Fair were each placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 6. Louisville parted ways with Fair five days later, exercising an option in his contract to terminate him without cause.
A one-sentence announcement about Johnson just said he was terminated per provisions in his contract.
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