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Despite NCAA rift, Rick Pitino, staff visit Louisville women’s team


There had been some controversy whether the NCAA would allow the Louisville men’s team to fly to New Orleans on Tuesday to support the school’s women’s team in their shot making it two national titles in two days for the athletic department.

Coach Rick Pitino told the media they were denied a chance to go by the NCAA, who cited it as an extra benefit (not sure how that works). After that, it looked like the team would be forced to watch the game back on campus. Then the NCAA’s official March Madness account countered by saying the NCAA was prepared to help the team get there.

Contrary to reports, the NCAA was prepared to assist Louisville in attending tonight’s women’s championship.

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 9, 2013

Well, whatever the case, Pitino and his coaching staff made their way to NOLA to give the team a pep talk before their game tonight against no. 1 seed UConn.The Lady Cardinals are currently riding the Cinderella wave after nabbing three-straight victories over higher-seeded opponents, including top overall seed Baylor, then two seeds Tennessee and California.

Coach Pitino & the staff just flew in for our game! Another great pre-game speech by the Hall of Famer! #cardnation…

— Cameron Newbauer (@camnew) April 9, 2013

Good for Pitino to get himself and the staff out there. I’d imagine the team doesn’t really need any added motivation to get up for the biggest game in women’s college basketball, but it can’t hurt to have a coach fresh off winning it all on the men’s side come give the team a few words of wisdom.

As for the conflict and the he-said-she-said, back-and-forth between the NCAA and Louisville, I have a hard time believing Pitino and his team would turn down the NCAA’s assistance in getting to the event. Maybe there was a break down in communication (it wouldn’t be the first time with the NCAA), but it all just seems weird.

(Photo courtesy of Louisville women’s basketball assistant Cameron Newbauer’s Twitter account, @camnew)

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten