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Rick Pitino the Latest Power Player to Get Caught Cheating

Updated on August 12, 2009

The Rick Pitino Affair is Just the Latest in a Trend Among Power Players

Perhaps every sports enthusiast, especially those who follow college basketball, have heard the latest news --- the Rick Pitino affair with Karen Sypher before she married Tim Sypher, an aide to Pitino.

The details are as sordid as one could expect.  But, Pitino is just one in a long line of men who have achieved success, wealth, and power who have let their reputations be ruined by a woman who is not and was not his wife. 

We can go through the list but it becomes tiresome after a bit --- there is Mark Sanford, South Carolina's governor, John Edwards, former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate.  We can add to the list such names as Ensign, Vitter, and on and on and on.  All are men who seemed to self-destruct before our eyes.

What Makes a Man Like Pitino Cheat?

Because he thinks he can --- and get by with it. Men who have worked their way up the success ladder often allow their importance in one area of success or expertise to shade their thinking and enlarge their egos. Men who feel their own importance allow their egos to control their actions.

Although I have had very few interviews with men who were known nationwide, the few that I sat in on during my internship surprised me. They all actually seemed to believe that they were so insulated from the general public that they would and could never be caught. Most of those who held positions of distinction were surrounded by "my people" who were supposed to take care of everything. In most cases, their "people" really tried, but failed.

In the case of Rick Pitino it has been reported that one of his assistants stood watch as Pitino and the woman had drunken sex in the back of a restaurant after having met only a few hours earlier. Karen Sypher has said she was coached on what to say should any questions come up and when faced with pregnancy, had an abortion, and later married Tim Sypher, Pitino's assistant.

If all had gone as planned, and it did not and never does, Pitino would have had his little indiscretion taken care of by passing it off onto a subordinate. We have seen and heard this before. One of John Edwards' associates has tried to claim that the baby born to Rielle Hunter following her affair with Edwards was his, not the child of Edwards. That's what money and power will do --- or try to do.

Money, power, and ego enable men like Rick Pitino to cheat.

The Stand By Your Man Wife

Apparently, most women who are married to these men of power are also so enamoured with the titles, positions, and power that they are willing to stand by their men through thick or thin. We watched as Elliot Spitzer's wife stood by his side as he resigned the governorship of New York, admitting a tryst with a paid prostitute. We watched as Elizabeth Edwards, some months after the disclosure of John's affair, defended him --- without much gusto, but still was willing to partially blame Ms. Hunter for John's infidelity.

We were quite surprised when Governor Mark Sanford's wife was no where to be seen as he held a press conference a day or two after his return from Argentina and his time alone with his mistress, whom he claimed to love.

So, why do the majority of women stand by their men? They have become comfortable with their lifestyles and the importance the man's name, title or position give to them. No matter how humiliated or humilitating the situation may become, many of the wives are willing to stand by their men.

During a few interviews I was again surprised to learn how insecure many women said they would feel without their husbands. Few actually mentioned love during the course of counseling --- at least not in the present tense. And, some wives were just to doggedly stubborn to let "him be taken away by another woman." They did not want to share the power the husband's name lent to them and their position in society, disgraced or not.

The Overwhelming Hypocrisy of Most of the Powerful Men Who Cheat

Rick Pitino, as many of his fellow cheaters of prominence, has worn his high moral ethics and his religion on his sleeve, an example for all to follow.  Pitino has even been known to have a Catholic priest on the bench during basketball games. 

John Edwards spoke of family values and his strong religious beliefs.  Mark Sanford was the symbol of the conservative right.  Spitzer, caught with a prostitute, had fought long and hard to end or at least curtail prostitution in New York. 

So, what happened to these men?  Did they get so caught up with their own self-importance that they believed they were above reproach --- or did they start believing the lies they told other people? 

Perhaps Shakespeare had it right, "Me thinks thou doth protest too much."  Isn't that the real downfall of these cheating husbands.  They set themselves above others.  While power and position definitely played to the ego, the men themselves went out of their ways to create a fragile pedestal they could stand on.  They set themselves up for the fall.  Ego can only soar so high, before it comes down.  These men set themselves up for failure.

Better Days for Pitino

Rick Pitino in Better Days
Rick Pitino in Better Days

Will Pitino Stay at Louisville?

That's the question.  Will Rick Pitino's immorality and cheating on his wife be diminished by his value as a top college basketball coach?  If I were a betting person, I would say that Pitino will be coaching --- at Louisville. 

Why?  Regardless of the "morality" clauses in his contracts, Rick Pitino brings money to the college.  His winning teams have brought contracts and donations from alumni.  Rick Pitino is too valuable to the university for them to let him go.  That's unfortunate.  It sends the wrong signal to not only those on the basketball team, but to young men everywhere. 

Pitino's actions are dispicable and sad.  Perhaps, the media presentation has ony added fuel to the fire.  But, rest assured basketball fans, there are advisers in the background telling him to let it die down for a while then everything will be fine.

After all, money is more important than morality in business today.  And, college basketball is big business.

Should Rick Pitino stay as coach at Louisville?

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    • JennaJackson profile image

      JennaJackson 8 years ago


      You may have hit the nail on the head. Well put. We do not live compartmentailized lives. Our basic values and characteristics will show through in all parts of our lives eventually. At the very least, indiscretion in one area will sow seeds of suspicion in other areas.

      Thank you for commenting. You are very perceptive.

    • profile image

      Pat 8 years ago

      This is a real disappointment to a lot of Coach Pitino's fans for sure. What would Pitino say if it was someone else?

      Can society afford to dismiss the lack of integrity and the ccheating? If you cheat at one thing, don't you cheat all anything? Perhaps that is the point of scrutinizing the facts that power brokers and power players do. It isn't so much about laws as about reliability.

    • JennaJackson profile image

      JennaJackson 8 years ago

      dohn121, It seems that racy affairs are not only a prerequisite for re-election but sometimes help. Think back to David Vitter. He was a member of the House of Representatives. Now he is a Senator!

      Personally, I don't care what someone does on his or her own time. I do have a problem with those who push their "core family values" on the rest of us and then do the opposite. Maybe I'm becoming too much of a cynic. But, I am now wary of anyone who is "too perfect."

      Thanks for the comment. It is always good to hear the views of others.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I guess that you could well say that there is a thin line that separates law and ethics. Although his act was unethical, he didn't break any laws, which shouldn't hinder him from keeping a job. Were that the case, there would be a lot of people (more so than now!) without jobs. Oh, he could probably live off of just doing corporate speeches for big businesses in Louisville anyway, should he lose his job as a coach.

      And what is it with US senators and racy affairs anyhow? Is that a prerequisite for re-election???

    • JennaJackson profile image

      JennaJackson 8 years ago

      Mireille, I know that is a rhetorical question. You and I both know that no woman would get by with such bad behavior. The ceiling in the bedroom and the boardroom for women is still made of glass.

    • Mireille G profile image

      Mireille G 8 years ago from Kansas

      Jenna that is such a nice hub. Too bad money talks. Would a woman get away with it?