The NCAA president watched the uncovering of corruption spread across college basketball Friday and said the reports, if true, represent "systematic failures" in college sports.
A wide-ranging, deep report from Yahoo Sports based on federal documents published Friday shows at least 20 major programs and over two dozen players committed cash and benefits violations.
Richard Pitino does not expect the nationwide investigation to find wrongdoing in his program, and a University of Minnesota internal review earlier this season found it to be in good standing. Still, the fifth-year Gophers coach was searching for clarity Friday as the fallout spread.
"It's kind of hard to know what the truth is," Pitino told the Star Tribune on Friday. "It's hard to really know what's going to come of it. I think everybody is speculating and guessing. I don't really know. It's hard.
"I feel great about where we're going. We believe in what we're doing."
Yahoo's report details information found on hundreds of documents regarding payments to players, showing the breadth of both the federal investigation and alleged corruption. NCAA President Mark Emmert said the allegations, "if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America."
Players including Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Duke's Wendell Carter and Alabama's Collin Sexton now are linked to having received benefits that would be NCAA violations. Current and former players were named, and the benefits are wide-ranging, with Yahoo detailing five-figure payments and $40 dinners. It seems there are plenty more revelations to come — with names being named along the way.
In September, Pitino's father, Rick Pitino, was fired in the first fallout of this scandal gripping the sport. An executive from Adidas, provider of Louisville's athletic gear, and others allegedly conspired to steer recruits to Rick's Cardinals with six-figure payments to their families. One of Rick's assistants was allegedly involved in at least one instance. Those allegations came from a yearslong FBI investigation.
"You see all the schools involved, and I've been on the other side of it as a son and what's been written about my dad," Richard Pitino said Friday. "I don't believe it to be true. So I don't know what to believe. But I definitely feel good about where we're going.
"What's hard with all this stuff is, saying we should be held accountable with everything under our watch — I get it. I don't have a problem with it. I really don't. But saying we should know everything all the time is not realistic. So, yes, we are going to be held accountable. That's the way it works everywhere, in all business, for the most part. ... But you can't know everything. You got to educate as much as you possibly can and trust the people around you.
"My dad's going through it right now. It is what it is, and it's very hard."
Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle told the Star Tribune in October that an internal review of Pitino's program concluded that the coach was "doing things the right way."
Coyle's statement then read, in part: "When news broke late last month about criminal allegations against assistant coaches at several Division I men's basketball programs, we saw an opportunity to review our own program and reassure ourselves, our university's leaders, and our fans that Gopher men's basketball is following all applicable rules. ... We had no reason to suspect [the U's compliance staff] would find any evidence of wrongdoing at the outset of the review, and we are satisfied now after seeing their work did not uncover any such evidence."
According to Yahoo's report, players or family members in recent years allegedly received cash, entertainment and travel expenses from former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency ASM Sports. Coaches and officials at several schools, including Clemson, North Carolina State, South Carolina and USC, told the Associated Press they did not know of the alleged payments before Yahoo's story.
Emmert said the NCAA Board of Governors and recently formed independent Commission on College Basketball are committed to "making transformational changes" and will cooperate with the federal prosecutors to "identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.