Legendary Coach and Program Face Adversity: Accusations of Illicit Activity Threaten the Career of Rick Pitino

Meagan Klebanoff, Maroon-News Staff

The University of Louisville basketball team is a powerhouse in college sports. They have been to the Final Four 10 times and have come out as champions 3 out of those 10, most recently in 2013. Presently, however, the team is making the news for other reasons, none of which are good. 

Earlier this month, a book entitled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” published by self-described escort Katina Powell, stirred up a scandal in the college basketball world.  The book outlines over two dozen stripping and sex parties that allegedly took place at the University of Louisville from 2010 to 2014 for new basketball recruits and players. According to the report, these parties occurred in Billy Minardi Hall, a dorm on the Louisville campus that housed many of the players. 

Five former Louisville basketball players and recruits have told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that they attended the parties, which were paid for by the team’s former graduate assistant coach, Andre McGee. One of the players, who chose to remain anonymous, said that he had sex with a dancer after McGee paid her. According to “Outside the Lines,” three out of the five players said they attended parties as recruits and again when they played for Louisville. Powell says that McGee paid her $10,000 for

supplying the dancers during the four-year period.

Louisville officials and the NCAA are now investigating the allegations. A source told CBS Sports that the NCAA will approach the scandal as an extra benefits case because, the source said, “a person buying a player or recruit a girl is no different, in the NCAA’s eyes, than a person buying a player or recruit a car or a phone.” McGee, who was an assistant basketball coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, denies the allegations, calling them “a lie.” However, McGee recently resigned from his position at UMKC because he said that the team deserved a full-time assistant coach, which he cannot be now that he has to fight the allegations against him. Due to the growing amount of evidence, his resignation and continued silence is not surprising. 

The main question now is whether or not Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino knew about the stripping and sex parties. The answer to this question will determine whether or not the NCAA and Louisville officials will simply implement a strict suspension and penalties to the basketball program, or if the investigations will end Pitino’s illustrious career. Not only has Pitino been the head coach at Louisville, Kentucky and Providence, leading all three teams to the Final Four, but he has also been the head coach of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the NBA. Since becoming the head coach of Louisville in 2001, his record is 368-126. 

Pitino denies any knowledge about the parties, but Katina Powell believes something different: “Four years. A boatload of recruits. A boatload of dancers. Loud music. Alcohol. Security. Cameras. Basketball players who came in at will. You got players that are so loyal to Pitino. Who wouldn’t be like, hey, you know, we got dancers and sex and all that going on? My thing is how could he not know?” Powell said on “Outside the Lines.” I guess we will have to wait and see.