Katina Powell, the author of a book that alleges the a member Louisville basketball coaching staff hired escorts in an effort to help land recruits, has spoken publicly for the first time since ‘Breaking Cardinal Rules’ was published.
In an interview with the Indianapolis Business Journal, Powell doubled-down on the accuracy of what she wrote and the reasons for why she published this — in a word, money. But she also made very clear that she believes head coach Rick Pitino knew all about what was happening in Billy Minardi Hall.
MORE: Can Rick Pitino survive this?
“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?” Powell said. “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 knowledge of what happened in his program.
Whether or not Pitino truly did know won’t be enough to prevent the NCAA from coming down on him and his program if they’re able to prove that these allegations are true. Coaches are now responsible for everything that happens within their program; too many big names were able to skirt punishment through plausible deniability and pinning the blame on an assistant.
What innocence may do, however, is save Pitino’s job. Because if the NCAA is able to find a way to prove that he knew about, funded or green-lit the hiring of escorts and prostitutes to help recruit, I don’t think he can remain the head coach at Louisville.
The question now becomes whether or not the NCAA is able to prove any of what Powell alleges happened in her book, and I think they have a pretty good chance of making that happen. What they’ll likely do — and what they have probably already begun doing — is to interview players that were recruited by Louisville but that ended up at other schools, threatening ineligibility while offering immunity for the truth.
Five-star LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney was explicitly mentioned in the book, with Powell going into detail about how an escort was sent to the hotel room that he was staying in. Ohio State’s five-star freshman Ja’Quan Lyle was also mentioned. Both players were, at one point, committed to Louisville.