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Pat Forde at the Center of it All


Sometimes it is amazing how things work in the Bluegrass. Two days ago, all we were talking about was John Wall and how many titles UK would win in the coming years. Fast forward two days and the conversation is about the great hair of Pat Forde and his rivalry with Calipari. For those of you that havent been keeping up, Forde was on Outside the Lines and gave his standard take on Calipari (great coach, lots of rumors about how he does things, why didnt he get hired last time by UK….etc) and some fans felt a bit offended. I must admit that I finally saw the interview last night and found it fairly innocuous. Forde is not a Calipari fan, was hard on him while at Memphis and has made it clear in the past that he thinks it is highly suspect that he was hired at Kentucky (so much so that Forde said during the search that Travis Ford would be the next UK coach). But overall the shots werent low blows and I didnt find it too out of line. Calipari responded with his now famous “tweet heard round the world” in which he asked what Ford(e)’s deal was and wondered if he was trying to sell books and deflect attention from down the road. A great barb from Cal and one that played well in the Big Blue Nation.

What was interesting to me about the tweet was not the comments about the OTL interview (which I dont think was all that big of a deal) but Calipari bringing up what I do think is a big issue right now with Forde. I find it simply astonishing that Pat Forde is the ESPN writer covering the Rick Pitino saga. For those of you that dont know, Forde lives in Louisville and has been in the Bluegrass state for a long time. His time at ESPN has led to more coverage of UK and UL on the website and overall it is a net positive for both schools. While Forde has had his run-ins with UL before (the now infamous “turning in” of UL to the NCAA in the mid 90s), he now is cozy with the school and has recently written a book with Rick Pitino. Yes you read that last phrase correctly, he has WRITTEN A BOOK with Rick Pitino, yet the most powerful sports entity on the planet has decided that he should be the one covering the Pitino scandal. Forde has interviewed Sypher, published a story on it (while still not writing the allegations) and is the one outlet for the national audience on Rick and his troubles….all the while sharing a financial interest in his success.

With that history, what justification can ESPN have for putting Forde on the story? If Pitino’s career were to go down in flames due to the allegation, it is likely Forde’s book would as well. Is that not a blatant conflict of interest?. When the website The Big Lead questioned whether Forde should be covering UL at all, it seemed the big network pulled him back a bit from the Cards. But now comes the most important Pitino story of the last few years, and Forde is the point man. Do I think Pat does not have the ability to be unbiased? No. Pat is a great reporter and he certainly has the ability to set aside his prejudices and report the story. But the appearance of bias is so great that almost anything he does has to be looked at as questionable. probably uses Forde on the story because he is close to the situation…and I am close to members of KSR, but that doesnt mean I should be the one reporting on them for the New York Times.

Ultimately, the Forde saga on the Pitino story is part of what I still believe is the worst media performance on a major local sports story that I have seen. Say whatever you want about Jerry Tipton….if this were John Calipari and the allegations were about him, you know they would be published or Jerry would raise a fit. But the local Louisville media and the authors who work with the coach have made decisions to let the story go. Forde certainly has the right to be critical of Calipari and question his past and future. But when he does so, he goes based on innuendo and allegations that have not been proven. On Calipari Pat Forde plays the role of hardened journalist…which is perfectly fine. But somehow when it comes to Rick Pitino, his co-author strikes a much more measured and reserved tone. Why is that? Well only Pat and ESPN know, but so long as he is the point man on the case, another investigative outlet will sit and let Rick Pitino continue to control the media coverage of his own case.

Article written by Matt Jones

43 responses to “Pat Forde at the Center of it All”

  1. dmw8067

    Hey Matt, why doesn’t Jerry Tipton write about Pitino’s current troubles?

  2. CalifCatFan

    Matt, let’s look at it another way and it will explain everything. Think of Pitino as a Democrat and Calipari as a Republican. Now that explains the media reaction. The media will ease off on a Dem, but will go after a Republican with ferocity.

  3. cobrecat

    Why don’t you cover the story the way you say it should be covered, interview the lady and give it to us straight.

  4. TheFutureMrsGillispie

    I wish Karen Sypher would talk to Matt – I believe him when he says he would publish the allegations if she gave them straight to him. If anyone knows Ms. Sypher, try and get her to talk to Matt. Tell her that he will get her side out and let her be heard!

  5. veeper

    Matt – this is so troubling. I read your site for rumor and innuendo — how in the world can you resort to viable reporting?? In today’s world of the Tattler and the Enquirer – I had hoped for more from KRS – you know — like the New York Post kinda Internet site. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO — Matt has to go and write articles that deserve a Pulitzer nomination (Gawd watch his head swell now). Oh well, guess I will simply have to trust his honest reporting and go without the hyper smearing of todays media elites. Oh the shame of it all!

  6. veeper

    LOL, and I put KRS intentionally – Matt will correct it.

  7. billmill87

    Who cares!!! I love that Louisville went from best team in the country to not even the best in their state in a matter of a month. But who cares about the Sypher story. It has nothing to do with sports or directly with Kentucky. Everyone complained when we talked about politics on here but no one seems to mind talking about this. Let the story be leaked the way it always does, then spend a day on it. I am much more excited about whipping up on Pitino in January than a Courtroom whipping up on him. And isn’t posting a picture of the woman a good enough burn to the Pitino legacy. What more could you possibly want.. I mean…he slept with that. Wow!!

  8. Carolina Blue is past tense for CAROLINA BLOWS

    There is the Matt we have learned to love. Spot on, “Fair and Balanced” reporting from Jonesy.

  9. univky

    Watching the ESPN highlights of Gillispie and Calipari during that clip was interesting. In the footage we see Calipari fussing at a player or ref, while Mr. Congeniality was clapping or laughing with Bruce Pearl. All of this while Forde was making his insinuations against Cailpari.


  10. Muser24

    I am all for this story to come out. But I wonder if the reason she isn’t being allowed to tell her story (via her lawyer), is because she could be sued if her statements are proven false in court. There has to be a reason she’s not talking. That makes me curious.

  11. jwbm

    Come on now, Mr. Forde, give me at least a clue who Ms. Sypher is after in the Pitino family. Is it Rick, is it his wife, the son left town, was it him ? I’m sure it was a sexual thing, I just can’t seem to find how who this sexual thing was with.. Give us something, Pat….

  12. Big Blue Cali-Zone

    Forde is a root licker, and the way that media is covering the Pitino story,or should I say not cover it, is a scandal. Forde is one of those people who simply wants Kentucky to remain in mediocraty, it gives him something to write about, because when we kick ass, he won’t open his mouth.
    Truth is, it doesn’t make a rats ass what clowns like Forde say, we are on a skyrocket voyage back to the top of College Basketball, and they can’t take it.

  13. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Rack ‘im!

  14. conley12

    Will watching uk on espn be like watching us play florida on a miami tv station. I figure with that contract that is where most of our games will be broadcast. I don’t think they like us very much

  15. Lori M

    Matt, why not just publish what you think you know and let the chips fall where they may? Certainly others heard the same stories but, after they talked to the woman, refused to relate them. You keep mentioning how gutless everyone else seems to be why not throw caution to the wind and just come out and say it. Surely you’re not afraid off a silly little lawsuit are you?

  16. schquigly

    wow. completely unrelated but I saw Micah Johnson at 2keys last night with Perry Stevenson. If you think we’re excited about football and basketball you should have seen those guys. I couldn’t get them to talk about anything else….

  17. kwfaris

    I exchanged a few emails with John Clay about the Pitino/Sypher story, specifically dealing with the picture situation with her son explored here, at The Big Lead, and at Deadspin. He replied that none of it was “on the court record” or “confirmed” and that they could not comment on it.

    The easiest way to confirm would be to ask Pitino. He told me that RP would probably not answer any questions, per his lawyer. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask.

    He also got a little upset about being called the “traditional media” and told me he took offense at the term. No idea why.

    The point is, this is a big story with Kentucky’s biggest celebrity (currently living in Kentucky). Mark Story can have a column, the one printed on the date Cal was hired, full of innuendo/rumors worse than Forde, but no one can have an opinion on Pitino/Sypher because of “ethics”.

    I guess they’ll stick to stories about trees in Coach Cal’s yard.

  18. Tim

    ESPN has an ombudsman that deliberates on issues like this. Someone should bring up these concerns with him or her.

  19. CalTheCat

    Forde is a big UL fan, always has been.

    btw, tell him what you think if you have AIM, his userid is: ESPN4D (or email just add after that)

  20. kwfaris

    I have emailed the ombudsman about Forde before. At least in the Sypher article, at the end, the description of Forde mentioned the Pitino book.

  21. BigCatDaddy4263

    I agree with the KSR Readers, Matt you should report the story on the CW or on the KSR Website. Are you being told by the CW to not report what you know about the situation? If so, then tell it all on here brother….. You’re a lawyer, they cannot and will not do anything to sue anyone, talking about Slick Rick and University of Louisville. There was charges filed and Karen Sypher has been indicted, so there is a paper trail..

  22. kyeric

    I know this is news, but honestly, who cares?

    If Forde does the story or not, if he likes Calipari or not…WHO CARES?

    Slow news day, no doubt. Forde will drift back into the background until the day there is something else to bitch about. Then, it will be front page KSR reading again…


  23. univky

    Pretty sure that Forde is a Missouri graduate.

  24. BigCatDaddy4263



  25. BluegrassHoopster
  26. JoeBHall

    ESPN needs to can Forde and put someone else on the Pitino story. I want to know the truth to this story.


    I wonder how long it will be before there is a 4 sale sign in Fordes yard

  28. secretagent0014

    28 bullshit and you know it

  29. bussy

    Not bullshit. I was thinking it before forde’s interview was even on outside the lines. a miracle has happened here.

  30. Cawood2Cal

    KSR staff, you have my empathy … as if the pressure for a blogger on KSR wasn’t great enough — constantly having to know the ins and outs of “Soutern Belles: Louisville” and following the musings of Kige Ramsey which could require a fresh post at a moments notice — then your leader Matt just tosses in on this post that he’s extensively watching you and reporting back to the NY Times.

    Well, you have my respect, gentlemen. Don’t think for a moment your efforts are underappreciated.

  31. matty32

    AMEN!!!! Matt great blog!!!! forde is the fox watching the chicken (cardinal) coup.

  32. Venerable Bede

    Matt, you are dead on. Nice job.

  33. matty32

    BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!! mr. ford(e)you just got lit up!

  34. Spanish Radio

    If you believe this “Say whatever you want about Jerry Tipton….if this were John Calipari and the allegations were about him, you know they would be published or Jerry would raise a fit.” is true Matt. Where were the stories about Gillispie’s player relationship issues? Funny how Tipton, Clay, and Story were virtually silent when it came to these issues. We did get Tipton yelling “Toughness!” like Admiral Stockdale at a Vice Presidential debate. Even the vaunted Larry Vaught only gave us hints.

  35. ZW

    This RP debacle just goes to show that the Louisville media has a friendly relationship with its city’s university while the Lexington media has an antagonistic(at best)relationship with its city’s university. IMO

  36. NKY4UK

    Of what little Forde had nice to say in the video posted before, it looked like he was physically in pain while he was saying it. I do like that he is hyping the UK-UL rivalry. I think nationally it is under appreciated.

  37. NotTheSlickistRick

    While it seems that MS Sypher’s attorney has instructed her to keep her mouth shut, it will not be too long until more of this story leaks out. My of my friends (unfortunately a Card Fan) grew up next to her and ran into her at the local Kroger a week before the indictment was returned. She reportedly told him the whole story, which is quite astounding. Much of the speculation on this site seems to be on target. Pay attention to the sign her son is holding. There is far more to the story however, and it will be revealed in a book she is working on. Coincidently my Card fan friend also has some connections in the UL program and there seems to be some rumbling that there may be a B-Ball coach search by August. It’s going to be a long HOT summer.

  38. Lori M

    And she’s working on a book? Now there’s a surprise! It’s all he said, she said until she comes up with proof and so far no one has been able to confirm her story.

  39. bhtxcatfan

    Hats off to a good post Matt.

    #2- Your are so correct sir.

  40. ale8one

    #2) not a good analogy.

  41. everestct
  42. The Big Blue Daily Mail — News for Kentucky Wildcat fans, May 23rd 2009 |

    […] Dagger posts about a kerfuffle over Pat Forde’s comments on Outside the Lines, about which Matt Jones at KSR had some comments yesterday.  Frankly, I have just a few quibbles with Forde, the most […]

  43. John Calipari or Derrick Rose

    […] you are in Forde’s court, keep in mind he openly lobbied for UK to hire either Travis Ford or John Pelphrey — and when you consider his ties to the […]