Former PC, Celtics basketball coach Pitino accused of bribing recruits

FILE - In this March 19, 2017, file photo, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino walks off the court after a 73-69 loss to Michigan in a second-round game in the men's NCAA college basketball tournament in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

A former head coach for the Providence College men's basketball team is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits.

Rick Pitino manned the sidelines at the old Providence Civic Center for two seasons as the head of P.C.'s team during the 1980s.

Pitino is most well-known in Southern New England for leading the Friars to the NCAA Final Four in 1987. Along with NBC 10's own Frank Carpano, the Providence Journal's Bill Reynolds covered those Friar teams.

"At this stage in his life, this is the last thing he needs," Reynolds said of the accusations Pitino is facing of corruption and bribery during his tenure as the head coach of Louisville.

Reynolds knows Pitino well. In fact, he has written three books with the former Friars and Celtics head coach.

He never saw this coming, however.

"He was always impetuous and kind of reckless," said Reynolds. "That was then. That was 35 years ago... It's just horrible. The whole thing's horrible."

One of Pitino's star players at P.C. in the 80s was Billy Donovan. Donovan is now the head coach of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. He addressed the situation in a press conference Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

"I wouldn't be standing where I am today without Coach Pitino," said Donovan. "The investment he made in my life...him being my college coach and then working for him for five years and we've always remained very, very close."

While Pitino may be the first big tree to fall during the nationwide investigation, Reynolds doesn't think he'll be the last big time coach to get caught up in it.

"(The coaches) love everything about the job," said Reynolds. "They love the money, they love the games, they love the fame, the celebrity, all of it. They can't stand dealing with these kids... so they farm that out. They have assistants that do that and grad assistants, and that's what blows up in their face."

Before Providence, Pitino was the head coach for two years at Boston University. In 1997, he was named head coach of the Boston Celtics before eventually returning to the college game after three seasons.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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