Pitino issues strong denial to NBA rumors

Louisville coach Rick Pitino issued a strong denial Saturday afternoon in regard to rumors that his "camp" has initiated discussion with the NBA's Sacramento Kings about the franchise's vacant head coaching position.

Published reports have been surfacing often the past few days that Louisville coach Rick Pitino was interested in a possible return to the NBA.

That's why Pitino issued a strong denial Saturday through the UofL Sports Information department.

"I'm not sure how these rumors get started, but there is absolutely no truth that there has been any dialog, either directly or indirectly, with the Kings and I'm sure they would confirm that," Pitino said. "I am not represented by an agent, I don't have a "camp," and no one representing me nor have I had any contact with the Kings. Anything else said to the contrary is false."

The noise that Pitino might leave Louisville for the NBA certainly drew concern from recruits like signee Stephen Van Treese. Pitino spoke with Van Treese on the phone Friday to assure him he would be his coach next season at UofL.

"These invalid rumors are unfair to the Kings and are misleading to the many outstanding young men we are recruiting to attend U of L," Pitino said.

Pitino, who recently completed his eighth season at Louisville, led the Cardinals to a 31-6 record last season that ended with a loss to national runner-up Michigan State in the regional final.

"I'm so proud of our players that have worked so hard to win the Big East Conference regular season and tournament championships in arguably the toughest season since its inception last year," said Pitino. "At the same time, our team has also performed very well in the classroom, earning a collective team grade point average over a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during the past year."

"We have worked extremely hard to attract the type of players that have helped us reach the NCAA Elite Eight the past two seasons and have kept us among the top ten in the nation the last two seasons," Pitino added.

Pitino announced that guards Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith have been selected as team captains for the 2009-10 season.

"I have great respect for the Kings, their ownership and (President for Basketball Operations) Geoff Petrie," Pitino said. "However, I have been totally committed to U of L the past eight seasons and I am looking forward to the future more than ever. We are all very anxious for the start of next season and will concentrate our efforts on what we can control, not on what we can't."

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