National Sports Briefs: Pitino says scandal draining
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ó Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday a sex scandal involving a woman accused of trying to extort millions from him has been “pure hell” for his family, fuming that newly released video of her police interview revived her “total fabrication.”
Pitino spoke at a hastily called news conference hours after Louisville police released audio and video recordings of phone calls and an interview with Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman at the heart of the scandal. Pitino has told police that he had sex with her six years ago.
Sypher claims in the interview that Pitino sexually assaulted her, an allegation she brought to police after she was accused of trying to extort millions from the coach. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of extortion and lying to the FBI.
The coach lashed out at the media for again reporting on her accusations by airing clips of the interviews Wednesday. Prosecutors did not pursue charges against the coach.
“Everything that’s been printed, everything that’s been reported, everything that’s been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie,” Pitino said. “All of this has been a lie, a total fabrication of the truth.”
The married father of five, who’s a Roman Catholic, said the scandal has taken a heavy toll on his wife and family.
“It has been pure hell for her and my family,” he said.
“I admitted to you I made a mistake, and believe me I will suffer for that mistake,” he added.
Pitino’s remarks were his first public statements since a five-minute apology two weeks ago for an “indiscretion” with Sypher at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. Sypher later told Pitino she was pregnant, planned to have an abortion but did not have medical insurance. He told police he gave her $3,000, money his attorney Steve Pence said was for insurance, not an abortion.
– BOONE ó New Appalachian State coach Buzz Peterson is getting two high-scoring transfers from Big South schools.
Peterson announced Wednesday that Omar Carter from Charleston Southern and Anthony Breeze of Coastal Carolina are transferring to Appalachian State. They’ll have to sit out this season under NCAA rules and will be eligible in 2010-11.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. ó A University of Michigan official says the school has commitments for 70 percent of the luxury suites the new-look Big House will have in 2010.
For $55,000 to $85,000 per season and at least a three-year commitment, well-heeled fans will have 16 comfortable seats in a 15-foot-wide by 28-foot deep box that comes with two TVs, granite countertops and sapele wood cabinets.
– BLOOMINGTON, Ind. ó Indiana coach Bill Lynch wanted to expand his program’s recruiting base. The cash and a chance to play at an NFL stadium helped, too.
The Hoosiers announced Wednesday that they’ve agreed to move next season’s home game against Penn State to FedExField, home of the Washington Redskins, for $3 million.
“It’s a great opportunity for our program from the financial end of it, and it’s a great opportunity to play at FedExField,” Lynch said. “We’ve not actively recruited that area, but we have talked about it, so we think it’s a win-win.”
JERSEY CITY, N.J. ó No matter what players think of the golf course, Liberty National gets universal praise for its intimate view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, so close to the shore she looks as if she could tend a flag on the green.
Equally impressive is the view of Tiger Woods suited up for the opening of the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Woods has not played The Barclays in six years, and this will be the first time he competes in all four of the playoff events for the FedEx Cup. At a time when PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is asking players to do more for sponsors in a tough economy, the world’s No. 1 player is pulling his weight.
“Tiger Woods playing is really good,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “He’s been very good for golf lately, not just because of the TV ratings, but he’s playing a lot more. Our tour is always better when he’s here. Golf is getting spoiled.”
MINNEAPOLIS ó Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn says “no team in any league has reached a deal” on a buyout for Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio.
n INDIANAPOLIS ó Indiana Pacers guard Mike Dunleavy says he could return from a severe knee injury earlier than expected.
Dunleavy says he can do everything except have physical contact, and he expects that to change within weeks. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has said he didn’t expect Dunleavy to be available until at least January 2010.
He had surgery in March to remove a bone spur from the patella tendon on his right knee.
BEREA, Ohio ó A collective cheer resonated from the middle of the field at the Cleveland Browns practice facility on Wednesday.
No, coach Eric Mangini has not settled on a starting quarterback. The players were simply relieved they’d reached the end of training camp and daily life in a hotel.
The competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn that has engulfed camp will continue into the team’s third preseason game Saturday night against Tennessee. Anderson, who has carved a reputation as laid-back and easygoing, doesn’t mind waiting on Mangini’s decision.
“I’ll ride it out,” Anderson said. “I don’t have a choice.”
* NEW YORK ó Bob Costas will host NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” pregame show from the site of the game starting this season.
The network announced Wednesday that it was tweaking the format of the show. The reunited tandem of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann will remain in the New York studio to provide highlights. They will be joined by two new hires who recently retired from the NFL: former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and ex-New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.
Costas will share the onsite set with game announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.