Pitino Says He's Target Of Extortion Attempt

by Rick Howlett on April 19, 2009

The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations by University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino that he’s the target of an extortion attempt.

Pitino said in a statement released through the university Saturday night that he recently reported an alleged extortion scheme, but the statement did not disclose any other details.     U of L also released statements of support for Pitino from school president James Ramsey and athletic director Tom Jurich.  

Attorney Thomas Clay has confirmed to several media outlets that Pitino’s complaint involves his client, Karen Sypher, the estranged wife of  U of L basketball equipment manager Tim Sypher.        Clay declined to comment further about the case.   Tim Sypher also released a statement, saying that he’s  “devastated by the bizarre allegations that my estranged wife is making against both Coach Pitino and myself.”

Statement by  Rick Pitino:

“My family and I were recently threatened as part of a criminal scheme to extort money. Upon receiving these threats, we reported this extortion attempt to the FBI. While I did not want to make this matter public, 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. 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. I am hopeful that the media and public will recognize the slanderous nature of this direct and malicious attack. My family and I appreciate the support we have received from Tom Jurich, Dr. James Ramsey, and the entire Louisville family. Because this is a federal criminal investigation, I cannot comment further at this time.”

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