- Associated Press - Thursday, July 29, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP) - Rick Pitino, worried that his wife and kids would find out he had a one-night stand with a woman he met in a bar, acknowledged Thursday that he didn’t immediately tell police about demands for cars, cash and housing in order to keep the tryst secret.

The Louisville basketball coach told jurors he kept quiet for nearly two months, hoping he could “contain” the damaging information.

Intimate details emerged over the past two days as Pitino, 57, testified against the woman, Karen Cunagin Sypher, at her federal extortion trial. He recounted the sex, the threatening calls he said left him “sick to my stomach” and strongly denied allegations he raped Sypher.

Pitino had to pause, look down and gather himself Thursday as he told jurors the hardest part of the case: telling his family about the 2003 affair after he reported the alleged extortion demands to the FBI in April 2009.


Pitino, who coached in the NBA before taking over at Louisville in 2001, said his best two years came when his son Richard served as an assistant. But as the secrets came out, the partnership had to end. Richard Pitino wound up taking a job at the University of Florida.

“When I had to suggest to him to move on, it was very difficult,” Pitino said.

Pitino and defense attorney James Earhart frequently cut each other off during Thursday’s questioning, and the tension escalated as Earhart pushed Pitino to address the rape allegations.

The coach interrupted, saying he was “here to give the truth.” Earhart retorted, “I bet you are.”

“I don’t fear the truth,” Pitino said.

“Neither do we,” Earhart shot back.

Sypher, 50, has pleaded not guilty. She filed a rape report with police after she was indicted last year, about six years after she and Pitino had sex in an empty restaurant a few hours after they met. Authorities have said her rape claim lacked merit, and no charges were filed.

Pitino told jurors Wednesday and again Thursday that Sypher initiated the sex by whispering to him and unzipping his pants when he got up to leave. He said they had sex “very briefly” and called the liaison “unfortunate.”

Sypher watched Pitino’s testimony closely but showed no reaction. Some jurors began fidgeting as Earhart questioned Pitino about that night and whether Sypher was raped.

Pitino cut off one question by saying Sypher didn’t protest as they had sex.

Earhart asked why Pitino didn’t address the rape allegations during several meetings with Sypher.

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