Rick Pitino responds to escort allegations

3 Comments

On Friday, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich responded to allegations made in an upcoming book that ex-staffer paid escorts to dance and engage in sexual acts with players and recruits.

A book, which could be released as early as Saturday, alleges that current UMKC assistant Andre McGee, Louisville director of basketball operations from 2012-14, hired Katina Powell to provide strippers and prostitutes for players and recruits at both on-campus and off-campus residences. Powell claims to have journal entries, text messages and photos.

The Indianapolis Business Journal, whose sister company, IBJ Book Publishing LLC, tweeted this photo following the press conference:

“I’ve had about 12 different assistants take part in this program in the last four years, as well as grad assistants, different video guys, and when this broke a month ago, I questioned everybody. If anybody had any knowledge, or hearsay, or seen anybody. Over 15 people said they had no knowledge, hadn’t seen anything. I’ve had players call me and tell me they were contacted by the person in the book. I asked them if they had any knowledge or seen anything and the answer to that was absolutely not.”

“How can over 20 people be involved and not one person … not one … just give me one person that knew something. Not one of us has ever heard anything about being out with the wrong people,” Pitino said later in the press conference. “So, that bothers me. I can’t say what’s true or not true because we’re investigating.”

Pitino said he attempted to investigate the allegations by himself, but was told to stop by the university’s compliance department. Pitino said he spoke to McGee just once since learning of the allegations. Pitino said McGee denied the allegations during that conversation.

“Andre was the person who made sure nobody got into trouble,” Pitino said. “To just watch and make sure they stayed out of trouble. And obviously, according to this book, if it’s true, that wasn’t the case.”

Tom Jurich, the Louisville athletic director, spoke first via phone. Jurich said he was first informed about the allegations through correspondence with the Indiana athletic department.

The book is being published by IBJ Book Publishing LLC. The chairman is Mickey Maurer is one of IU’s top boosters (the law school is named after him). Maurer began an email chain looking to identify a Louisville player in a photo. His request was sent through the IU athletic department to Kevin Miller, the Louisville Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and forwarded to Kenny Klein, Louisville’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations. Later, Mauer informed Miller and Klein that the photo was going to be used in a book that would be unfavorable to Louisville.

“Do you feel that Indiana turned Louisville in?” a reporter asked.

“I have no comment,” Jurich replied.

Indiana head coach Tom Crean wasted little time before commenting on the matter, releasing this statement to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated moments after Pitino’s press conference:

“Any assertion our basketball program had anything to do with the situation at Louisville is flat-out wrong.”

Chuck Smrt, who spent 17 years on the NCAA Enforcement Staff, has been hired by the university to conduct an independent investigation.