With millions of dollars at stake every year, college sports are perpetually riddled with scandals. The most recent, at the University of Louisville, may turn out to be one of the worst in recent years.
A 104-page book released on October 12th alleges that a staff member of the Louisville basketball team paid a team of escorts to have sex with at least six highly touted recruits, several undergrads, and even the parents and legal guardians of some recruits.
The book, titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” was written by 42-year old former escort Katina Powell. It was co-authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dick Cady, who says Powell is “pretty damn credible.”
Powell alleges that between the years of 2010 and 2014, she was hired on at least 22 occasions by former Cardinals staff member Andre McGee to strip and have sex in exchange for game tickets and at least $10,000. The encounters included Powell, her three daughters, and other women.
The events allegedly took place in Billy Minardi Hall, an on-campus residence hall where McGee lived with the players. McGee was on the basketball team before becoming a graduate assistant coach and director of men’s basketball operations. He left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant coach at Missouri-Kansas City, where he has been placed on paid administrative leave since the allegations surfaced on October 2nd.
Powell told ESPN “Andre would come to me and tell me what girl the recruit wanted, and I would tell the girl. She would say her price, I would tell him, he would say, ‘OK’, give me the money. That was just it. He would take them into another room, and her and the recruit would do what they did behind closed doors.”
When asked whether future Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino knew about the events, Powell told the Indianapolis Business Journal, “How can it be going on for four years, that many people be involved and that many people see what’s going on and Rick Pitino doesn’t know anything about it? You have players that are very, very loyal to Pitino. And if they thought anything was wrong or anyone was going to get in trouble, I’m pretty sure they would have gone back to report to Pitino. When I would ask Andre, “Does Pitino know about this?” he would laugh and say, “Rick knows about everything.”
Pitino has vehemently denied knowing about the transgressions, but has not said that he does not believe they occurred. Pitino is a veteran coach of 41 years, with two national championships and seven Final Fours. He has been at Louisville since 2001.
“If there was any wrong doing, and that’s a big if, then people have to pay for their crimes,” he said.
According to Powell, professional basketball player and former Cardinal Terrence Williams offered $1,500 for a three-way with both her and her daughter. Williams told TMZ, “I am not a part of that. To Louisville I am…Elvis Presley, so why would I pay anybody for anything?”
The response provided by McGee’s attorney was as blunt as it was harsh: “She’s a whore. She’s interested in making money. She’s interested in making money and the publisher of this book is interested in making money.”
Powell did initially bring the story to the Indianapolis Business Journal, and has admitted to the Journal that she’s writing the book to make money, for which she will receive 10% of the gross commissions.
The escort’s allegations, which have been confirmed by at least one former recruit, have led to four separate investigations. The University of Louisville Foundation has announced that they have hired a law firm to review the allegations, and investigations by the NCAA and the athletic department at Louisville were launched immediately after the school was notified of the claims in late August.
In addition, campus police chief Wayne Hall has said that his department, along with the Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, will look into the possibility of criminal charges.
The book mainly details Powell’s life as an escort, and includes juicy passages such as “Having sex with the recruits had its ups and downs…Some of these guys were babies and didn’t know the first thing about having sex, and for other recruits the girls said some of them knew how to work it off the court. The biggest hype at U of L was who would cum first. Andre [McGee] teased some of the guys about how fast they would cum and how he was wasting money on guys who took no time to cum.”
“She also writes, “I felt like I was part of the recruitment team. A lot of them players went to Louisville because of me.”
If the allegations turn out to be true, the Cardinals, who are unranked in preseason polls and have their weakest team in five years, could face everything from the loss of scholarships, recruiting restrictions, and could even have their 2013 national title vacated. In addition, if it turns out that Pitino was aware of the activities, the school will have no choice but to fire the legendary coach.