Brian Bowen, the heralded basketball prospect whose recruitment led to an FBI investigation and the firing of Hall of Fame Louisville coach Rick Pitino, will not play for the Cardinals, the school announced Wednesday. In a statement, the school said it will allow Bowen to remain at Louisville and continue to receive his athletic scholarship. It also will give Bowen written permission to contact other programs about transferring, if he desires to leave. But he will not be allowed to practice or play for Louisville “at any point in the future.”
“Brian has been a responsible young man for the institution since he enrolled,” interim Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra said in the statement. “He has endeared himself to his teammates and the men’s basketball staff with a positive attitude during a very difficult period.”
Bowen, a forward from Indiana who was the 19th-ranked recruit in the class of 2017 by 247 Sports, surprised many (including Pitino) when he announced his intention in June to play for the Cardinals. But according to a criminal complaint unveiled by the U.S. Justice Department in September, Bowen agreed to attend Louisville only after Adidas executive Jim Gatto promised to pay the player’s family $100,000. Pitino, who had a longtime relationship with Adidas, has said he had no knowledge of such a scheme, but a federal indictment unveiled earlier this month said Pitino agreed with the plan to pay Bowen.
The player heard Wednesday’s news via social media, his lawyer told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman:
Louisville placed Pitino on administrative leave with the intention of firing him one day after the Justice Department revealed the results of its investigation. The school formally cut ties with the two-time NCAA champion a few weeks later. It also suspended Bowen from the team. Bowen’s attorney announced earlier this month that the FBI had cleared Bowen of any wrongdoing, which seemingly could have cleared a path for him to return. But according to Goodman, the school never sought reinstatement for Bowen.
Gatto is one of 10 college basketball assistants, shoe-company executives and financial advisers to be charged in the wide-ranging federal investigation into college basketball recruiting. He faces four counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
Louisville also announced Wednesday that it has “parted ways” with associate head coach Kenny Johnson, who was not named in the FBI’s criminal complaint but was placed on administrative leave after the school said it was looking into his role in the FBI investigation. Johnson is the second Louisville assistant to be dismissed over the investigation.
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