Pitino mum, questions continue about escort allegations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino has apparently said all he plans to say for now about the troubling allegations outlined in a book by an escort that has led to a sex scandal looming over his men’s basketball program.
Pitino was mum about the allegations on Saturday, but questions continue to swirl after the online release of Katrina Powell’s book, ”Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.” The 104-page book was published by an affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal and is scheduled for release Oct. 12, though the publisher said it could be sooner.
Kate Snedeker, a spokeswoman for IBJ Book Publishing LLC, said that Powell is not doing interviews.
While Pitino and Powell aren’t talking about the book, Louisville confirmed Friday it has been investigating her allegations that Andre McGee brought escorts to dorm parties and paid the women to dance and strip, and have sex with recruits and players. McGee left Louisville in 2014 to join the staff at Missouri-Kansas City, which has placed him on paid administrative leave.
McGee could not be reached for comment and messages left with his Louisville attorney, Scott Cox, have not been returned.
Pitino was questioned about the allegations again after Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, but repeatedly said his focus is on coaching.
”I’m just going to concentrate on basketball,” Pitino said Saturday, adding that he has not read the book and has no plans to read it. ”When adversity hits, the strong survive. … Idleness is what makes the mind wander, so the best thing I can do is work, work, work.”
The coach also doesn’t want players talking about it. He said his current roster had nothing to do with the allegations and has instructed them not to discuss the situation.
”We told them it’s not your concern,” he said, ”and I’ve been told to coach basketball and not do anything else. Not get involved in this.”
Cardinals forward Mangok Mathiang said it’s out of the players’ control.
”All we’re trying to focus on is the season coming up and the teams we’re going to play,” said the 6-foot-10 junior, who sat out the scrimmage with an eye injury. ”There’s always going to be adversity and we’ve been through it plenty of times before.”
As for the investigation, Mathiang added: ”Whatever comes out, comes out.”
UMKC head coach Kareem Richardson is also trying to focus on basketball on his campus. The Louisville assistant from 2012-13 and McGee’s current boss, did say the matter is a ”serious concern.”
”We all need to allow the process to run its course without interference,” he added in a statement Saturday. ”In the meantime, our coaches and student-athletes are focused on academics and basketball as the season gets under way.”
Louisville has retained Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group, which assists schools in NCAA cases, to review the allegations. It is unclear if university police have begun an investigation. The age of consent to have sexual intercourse in Kentucky is 16, though in some instances it could be 18.
University officials say they learned of the allegations in late August and immediately notified the NCAA.
Powell said in the book that during a four-year period many of the activities took place in the players’ dormitory.
The book said that Powell brought women to 22 parties from 2010 to 2014 at Billy Minardi Hall, which houses Cardinals basketball players. The woman said that she and three of her daughters, along with other women, danced and stripped for Louisville recruits and players and performed sex acts with them.
The 43-year-old Powell also said McGee paid her $10,000 for the visits plus tips and offered recruits alcohol at those parties.
In the book, Powell said that McGee initially brought women into the dorm through a side door. The process evolved to the point where the escorts entered and left the building through the front entrance and had become familiar to staff.
McGee started 57 games at Louisville from 2005-09. He played professionally in Europe before becoming a program assistant in 2010, and he was promoted to director of basketball operations in 2012.
The publishing company said it paid investigators and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dick Cady to vet Powell’s story, and based much of it on journal entries, photos and text messages.
With the allegations engulfing he program, Louisville fans showed their support at Saturday’s scrimmage for Pitino and his players, greeting them with cheers as they entered the court at the KFC Yum! Center.
”Everybody wants to band together,” Mathiang said. ”We can’t let nothing like this come between us.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Missouri, and Associated Press Writers Claire Galofaro and Dylan T. Lovan and freelancer Josh Abner in Louisville contributed to this report.
Indianapolis Business Journal: http://bit.ly/1MP1Jju