An escort’s allegations in a tell-all book that former Louisville men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her to provide dancers to strip and have sex with Cardinals recruits, their fathers and players stunned the college basketball world when word of its pending release surfaced a week ago.
Four investigations have been launched, two this week, to review Katina Powell’s allegations in the book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.” Powell said in the book that three of her daughters were among those who danced with her in a dormitory on Louisville’s campus, creating a lingering unease and uncertainty looming over Rick Pitino’s program.
With questions mounting about who did what, who knew what and when, Louisville President James Ramsey stressed the need for patience as the investigations move forward. Ramsey said Thursday in a statement that, “We must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”
Campus police took a couple of days to review the book’s details before Chief Wayne Hall announced Tuesday that his department is working with Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to review the allegations for possible criminal charges.
The independent University of Louisville Foundation, which does fundraising for the school, hired a law firm Thursday to review the allegations in the 104-page book. There were ongoing investigations by the NCAA and Louisville that had begun when the school was notified in late August about Powell’s accusations.
As Ramsey called for people to let the process unfold, he also praised longtime athletic director Tom Jurich’s “exemplary” supervision of the department. The president, however, didn’t mention Pitino — raising even more questions.
The coach talked about the omission in a radio interview later Thursday, saying, “I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me, but that’s something I cannot control.”
Pitino then bristled at a question if the widespread attention now on his program has made him consider resigning.
“I don’t know what resigning would accomplish,” Pitino, 63, told 840 WHAS. “I think that’s the cowardly way out if I resign now without coaching two fifth-year seniors and people who came to play for me. What does it do for the program if the coach runs away?
“If I resign, would people feel better about it?”
Much depends on what the investigations uncover, but the book’s allegations have raised several troubling questions.
Former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA, CBS Sports reported Thursday. Louisville men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on the report.
Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.
Powell’s book was released online by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the book is scheduled for release on Monday.
The book states that McGee hired her and other dancers for 22 shows performed from 2010 to 2014, mostly at Billy Minardi Hall. She said McGee paid her $10,000 during that period.
McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which has placed him on paid administrative leave. Messages left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, were not returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ publishing also could not be reached for comment. Neither Powell nor McGee has commented publicly since the release of the book.
Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations and repeated in his second local radio interview in three days that he didn’t know those activities took place in the dorm named after his late brother-in-law. The coach said he was still trying to understand the motive behind McGee’s alleged actions and said that Louisville didn’t need to hire dancers to attract top-flight recruits to his elite program.
“If you’re the University of Louisville, you don’t need any help with those artificial means to get players,” Pitino said. “This is one of the premier programs in the nation.”
Right now, his premier program is being scrutinized and examined by four separate entities.
Gary B. Graves, The Associated Press