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Rick Pitino stresses 'no knowledge' of recruiting scandal, cites lie detector test

Men's College Basketball, Louisville Cardinals

Rick Pitino reiterated that he had "no knowledge" of an alleged payment from a Louisville assistant coach to the family of high-profile recruit Brian Bowen, citing a lie detector test Pitino took earlier this month.

As part of a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Jay Bilas, Pitino discussed the events and alleged activities that prompted an FBI investigation and ultimately resulted in his ouster at Louisville. The Hall of Fame basketball coach said he takes "full responsibility" for any staffer he hires, but also emphasized that he thoroughly vets his assistant coaches.

Pitino referred to the lie detector test on multiple occasions, telling Bilas that "one of the toughest things you have to do -- and I hope you never do it -- is take a lie detector test."

"I was asked two questions," Pitino said. "And I said, 'I want you to ask me if any other recruits in my tenure were ever given anything.' And he [the polygraph examiner] said, 'That's not what we're here for. We're here for: Did you have any knowledge of the Bowen family getting any money? Did you have any knowledge of an Adidas transaction?'

"I answered 'absolutely not' on both questions and passed the lie detector test. So I had no knowledge of any of this."

The entire interview will air Wednesday night on ESPN's SportsCenter upon the completion of an NBA game between the Timberwolves and Spurs.

The FBI announced last month that 10 men -- including four assistant coaches from across the country and top Adidas executive James Gatto -- were charged with crimes relating to the investigation. Louisville was not explicitly named in court documents, but interim president Greg Postel confirmed that the school was part of the probe.

The allegations against Louisville include payments of $100,000 to the family of an unnamed player. The player is believed to be Bowen, a five-star freshman who committed to Louisville in early June. Bowen was suspended indefinitely shortly after the FBI news broke.

Louisville placed assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair on paid administrative leave earlier this month. The school announced the dismissal of Fair last week.

"I take full responsibility for anybody I hire," Pitino said. "There's no question about that. I take ownership of that. People have said to me after the Andre McGee thing, 'You need to really vet your assistant coaches.' Well I did vet my assistant coach. ... I've hired some great ones. Did I make some mistakes in the last couple of hires? One hundred percent, yes, but I believe that they were the right people."

Louisville's athletic board voted unanimously Monday to fire Pitino "for cause," a conclusion he still disputes.

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