Louisville investigating claim escorts were paid to have sex with players

Rick Pitino (USATSI)
Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s program is facing some racy allegations. (USATSI)

The University of Louisville and the NCAA is investigating allegations in an upcoming book that a former staffer paid for escorts to have sex with recruits and players, the school announced on Friday.

According to a report from Yahoo!, the book alleges that former grad assistant and director of basketball ops Andre McGee paid a madam thousands of dollars over a four-year period, and hosted 19 parties for Louisville and McGee.

The book alleges that over a four-year period, Powell brought women into Billy Minardi Hall – the basketball dormitory on the Louisville campus that is named after Pitino’s late brother-in-law – through a side door to entertain players and recruits. Powell also says her dancers – which included her daughters – also entertained Louisville players at other locations off-campus. After the women danced for the players for an agreed-upon sum, Powell alleges that she would negotiate a second payment for the women to have sex with the athletes.

The book alleges: “At the peak of the dormitory and off-campus entertainment more than $10,000 cash changed hands to Katina for supplying the women. This does not include the hundreds of one dollar bills thrown at the dancers at each party by McGee, the recruits and players. Nor does it include the money paid to the women who had sex with the recruits afterward. So frequent were the escapades that Katina would later say, especially after the Cardinals won the 2012-2013 NCAA championship: I felt like I was part of the recruitment team. A lot of them players went to Louisville because of me.”

McGee is currently an assistant at UMKC under former Louisville assistant Kareem Richardson.

The NCAA is also investigating the claim, and according to ESPN has talked to former potential recruits — including LSU guard Antonio Blakeney — about their experiences on visits.

For its part, Louisville has released a statement that it has retained outside counsel to investigate the claim.

“The University of Louisville first learned of these allegations when the Indianapolis Business Journal contacted the University’s sports information department seeking comment in late August.

The University was shocked to hear of the allegations. The University’s athletics compliance department was immediately notified. Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group was retained to conduct a thorough, objective review of this information. Mr. Smrt is an outside expert who has 34 years of NCAA regulatory experience, including over 17 years with the NCAA enforcement staff.

In coordination with the University’s legal counsel and faculty athletics representative, Mr. Smrt’s review was quickly launched to assess the validity of the information and the potential for any NCAA rules violations. The University, on its own initiative, notified the NCAA Enforcement Staff regarding this matter and has been in regular communication with them.

The University of Louisville will continue its review in full cooperation and coordination with the NCAA and if warranted, take any appropriate action. The allegations have been taken very seriously. In no way would anyone at this institution condone the alleged activities. To preserve the integrity of the review process, the University will withhold comment on any details until the review is concluded.”

The book, according to Yahoo!, is called “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” and it’s being published by IBJ Book Publishing of Indianapolis. It alleges that the madame, Katina Powell, has “hundreds of text messages with (McGee) to set up her services, as well as pictures of her girls with players and recruits.”

The IBJ itself released a statement on the forthcoming book, detailing that it alleges “high school-age recruits were offered alcohol by McGee, who also arranged additional payment to her and her dancers if the recruits wanted to have sex with them.”

UL coach Rick Pitino and AD Tom Jurich are scheduled to address the media on the matter at 5:45 p.m.


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