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On Aug. 29, 2003, Sypher had an abortion at Cincinnati Women's Services. Her name at the time was Karen Wise. Documents show that she identified herself as Catholic and signed an informed consent form.
Pitino, who declined to be interviewed by SI, told Jurich he is not convinced that he caused the pregnancy that led to the abortion. "Rick told me he doesn't know if it was his kid," says Jurich. "He told me he asked for a blood [paternity] test, but she wouldn't do it."
Sypher says, "No, there was no paternity test. He didn't ask for one. He just wanted me to get [the abortion] done. It could only have been his [baby]. I didn't have sex for eight months before that."
Eight months after the abortion, in April 2004, she married Tim Sypher, who was—and remains—Louisville's strength coach. Karen, who met Tim through Pitino, has alleged to SI that she believes Pitino urged Tim to marry her. (Tim initially was hired to work for Pitino with the Boston Celtics in 1997 and owes his career to Pitino.) The Syphers, who have a four-year-old daughter, are divorcing.
Pitino has not spoken publicly since a press conference at Louisville on Aug. 12, when his strongest words were "I'm sorry for that indiscretion six years ago." He did not mention abortion, and he did not mention Sypher by name.
The university seems confident because of two factors: First, the fact that Sypher, not Pitino, is under federal indictment. Second, that it has not been proved that Pitino was responsible for the pregnancy that was aborted.
Pitino also has long been insulated by a cadre of loyal followers, many of whom have been in his employ or benefited from their relationship with him. One is Tim Sypher. Another is Vinny Tatum, who was a student manager under Pitino at Kentucky and is now in his sixth year as executive assistant to Pitino at Louisville. Tatum was reportedly the only other person in Porcini on the night that Pitino and Sypher had sex and has told police that he heard but did not see what took place.
That loyalty is only a more personal version of what Louisville supporters feel toward their Cardinals. Last Saturday morning a group of students killed time in the backyard of a sorority house. One of them, Jenna Dreher, 20, said, "As long as [Pitino] can coach a good basketball team, I don't care what he does on the side." Pitino's behavior has put moral issues in play, but come November the scoreboard measures only points.
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