Former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino has filed a federal lawsuit against Adidas AG (ADDYY) alleging the sportswear brand purposefully harmed Pitino's reputation.
Pitino filed the suit on Tuesday, Oct. 17, just one day after he was fired from the University in an ongoing college basketball fraud investigation. The Louisville Courier-Journal was first to report.
Adidas was accused by the FBI of funneling money to two Louisville recruits, expecting them in return to attend Louisville, sign with Adidas and hire Adidas-approved advisors when the players went pro. Pitino claimed he knew nothing of the "Adidas conspiracy," said Steve Pence, his lawyer, in a statement.
Pitino is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages from Adidas for allegedly tarnishing his reputation by involving him in the bribing scandal. But Pence said Pitino also "wants to use this forum to prove that he had nothing to do with Adidas' outrageous, wrongful and illegal conspiracy."
In the case filed in district court Tuesday, Pitino said he was vilified in the media, making it "difficult and painful" for him and his family to appear in public. "Adidas knew, or recklessly avoided knowing, that Coach Pitinos' reputation for honesty and integrity would be seriously damaged by the perception - even if unfounded - that he was involved with the illegal and wrongful payment of money to recruits, or on their behalf," the suit claims.
Adidas was quick to fire back: "Mr. Pitino's lawsuit is clearly a reaction to his termination yesterday and is without merit," an Adidas spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Adidas over-the-counter shares traded lower 0.6% to $112.63 at the market close Tuesday.
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