Pitino speaks out on shoe wars

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino's 30-minute press conference turned into a rant on shoe companies on Thursday afternoon. Pitino said the NCAA needs to "get shoe companies" out of the lives of the prospects.

One simple question sparked a major debate on Thursday afternoon during University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino's preseason press conference.

Pitino was asked about what changes needed to be made in college basketball and Pitino was quick to answer - and then elaborate - on shoe company affiliations with prospects.

"I never thought that shoes would be the reason you wouldn't recruit players," Pitino said. "But it's a factor. I think we need to deal with it. We need to get the shoe companies out of the lives of young athletes.

"I wish it wasn't there, but it is."

Pitino, who has a multi-year deal with adidas, didn't mention a specific incident but it's likely the issue sparked a nerve when recent U of L commitment Antonio Blakeney de-committed and is likely to be headed to a Nike school.

"I don't like not being able to recruit a kid . . .," Pitino said, adding "because of shoe affiliation," but then he added that it does happen.

Pitino noted that many AAU coaches are paid directly from the shoe companies, including Nike, adidas, and Under Armour. The Hall of Fame coach said he believes the U of L recruiting pool of prospects "shrinks" because of the shoe companies.

"Our pool shrinks," he said. "Now, with that being said in the last few years we're having some of the best recruiting classes that we've had in the last 13.

"Why nobody wants to talk about that is because it's money related. The University of Louisville makes a lot of money through Adidas."

But he added the entire deal, "needs to be cleaned up."

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