Louisville Notre Dame Basketball

Rick Pitino was fired from his head coaching job at Louisville in October following an FBI investigation into the program. 

The Associated Press

Rick Pitino is not a happy man right now.

Recent accounts online show the off-the-court struggles of the 65-year-old former Louisville men’s basketball head coach.

Despite the way Pitino left the college basketball spotlight, he still yearns to return to the court where he can mentor college or professional players.

Of course, most college basketball fans know the troubled storyline that follows Pitino, who was fired prior to the start of the 2017-18 season after pay-for-play allegations arose surrounding the recruitment of top-tier players.

Pitino has had a controversial career, and after ####, Louisville had no other choice than to let him go.

However, with “pay for play” currently a hot topic in the college basketball world as the FBI continues to investigate a slew of renowned Division I programs, it’s not a good look that Pitino is already receiving coaching interest and potential opportunities.

According to multiple news sources, a club in Australia’s National Basketball League known as the New Zealand Breakers reportedly contacted Pitino about its head coaching gig.

The Milwaukee Bucks are also searching for a new head coach heading into next season, and there are some rumblings Pitino might become an option in the offseason.

How seriously are people taking the fact that he allegedly offered recruits thousands of dollars to get them to play for the Cardinals if just months after he was fired, he’s already rumored to be fielding new job offers?

It’s growing more and more apparent to me that paying college athletes under the table is viewed by most as an excusable offense rather than a heinous crime.

So if a guy that has been exiled from the NCAA after committing acts that make college basketball look like a joke can still find some work and make a decent amount of cash, why can’t players reap some more benefits from their hard work?

The main issue is this – illegally paying players will continue to happen. It’s impossible to monitor every single program’s funds and listening to phone calls that coaches have with players, like what happened to Arizona’s Sean Miller.

Large programs have too much money to spend and will benefit too greatly from having these top-name recruits to not take their chances with throwing some dollar signs in player’s faces.

And players have a variety of family and personal situations that won’t keep them from saying no to some extra pay they can send back home or keep while on campus.

Want to stop looking like a huge joke every time one of these programs is exploited, NCAA? Make it okay to pay the players. Come up with some weird system that limits the amount of money they make, but make it okay to actually make some money. That would be a rare step in the right direction.

If Pitino can still make money coaching after violating serious NCAA rules, then 18-23 year olds can make a wage putting in countless hours in the gym practicing to help keep these coaches happy and employed.

Skyler Lebron is a columnist for The Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @SkylerLebron and contact him at [email protected]

Skyler Lebron is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida men's basketball team. Throughout five semesters with the Alligator, he has covered Cross Country, Volleyball, Softball and now covers Men's Basketball. Skyler is also