Woman claims marriage part of plot

NEW YORK -- The woman accused of trying to extort as much as $10 million from Rick Pitino over a sexual encounter says the Louisville men's basketball coach orchestrated a plot to keep her silent, including a claim that her current husband was paid to marry her.

Karen Cunagin Sypher, whose extortion charge is still pending, says in Friday's edition of the New York Post that Pitino -- a married father of five -- engaged her at a Louisville restaurant in 2003, where the sexual encounter is said to have occurred. Pitino admitted to the tryst Wednesday and issued a public apology.

The Post reported that Cunagin Sypher, who at the time was divorced from a previous marriage, went on to claim that her subsequent marriage to Tim Sypher -- Pitino's equipment manager -- was all part of an elaborate plot Pitino used to keep the incident private.

"The feds bugged my house and put surveillance everywhere with Tim's help," said Cunagin Sypher, who is currently in divorce proceedings with Tim Sypher.

"I now think my husband was paid to marry me."

Her claims in the Post story are similar to comments contained in the police documents that were made public this week after they were first reported by The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

Pitino's attorney called Karen Cunagin Sypher's allegations of a plot to keep her silent a "complete fabrication."

"Karen [Cunagin] Sypher promised that if Coach Pitino did not pay her $10 million, she was going to embarrass him," attorney Steve Pence said Friday. "This is part of that promise."

Pitino's job at Louisville appears safe after school president James Ramsey said Thursday it was time to move on and that the coach is "our guy."