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University Of Louisville Men's Basketball Rocked By Escort Scandal

Oct 13, 2015
Originally published on October 23, 2015 5:13 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The University of Louisville's storied men's basketball program is in the middle of a sex scandal. A new book alleges that a former employee arranged for strippers and escorts to entertain and provide sex for players, recruits and even family members of recruits. Rick Howlett, of member station WFPL, has the story.

RICK HOWLETT, BYLINE: The book is called "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball And The Escort Queen." Co-author Katina Powell alleges that from 2010 to 2014, the former director of basketball operations for the Cardinals, Andre McGee, paid her about $10,000 to arrange 22 stripper and escort parties, many of them at the players' dorm, Billy Minardi Hall, on the edge of campus. McGee, through his attorney, denies the allegations but acknowledges that he knows Powell.

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RAY PITINO: To say I'm disheartened, disappointed, would be probably the biggest understatement I've made since I've been a coach.

HOWLETT: That's Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino at a press conference right after some of the book's details were first made public. Pitino and other school officials had been tipped off about a month earlier that some potentially damaging claims could emerge from the book. The Hall of Fame coach has repeatedly said he was unaware that anything improper was going on, and he told WHAS radio host Terry Meiners last week that he has no plans to resign.

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PITINO: The only comment I've made is, I know nothing about any of this. So I don't know what resigning would accomplish. I think that's the cowardly way out. What does it do for the program if the head coach just runs away?

HOWLETT: The University of Louisville has launched an internal investigation into the claims and notified the NCAA. That agency won't confirm that it's conducting its own probe, but an Ohio State University spokesman said last week the NCAA has spoken with freshman JaQuan Lyle. He's among the former U of L recruits mentioned in the book. Police and the state prosecutor are also reviewing the book, including Powell's acknowledgment that she hired her three daughters as entertainers, two of them when they were 15 and 17 years old. The bombshell allegations have people buzzing in this college basketball-obsessed state.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "HOWIE LINDSEY SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's time now for the "Howie Lindsey Show" on 93.9 The Ville.

HOWLETT: Howie Lindsey hosts a daily show on a station devoted to Cardinal athletics. Because of the book's lurid content, he finds himself in the unusual position of having to wish you a listener advisory.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "HOWIE LINDSEY SHOW")

HOWIE LINDSEY: If you've got kids in the car, probably not the best day to listen to this station. Or, put some headphones in. Earmuffs, right?

HOWLETT: The Cardinals won the national title in 2013, when some of the alleged violations took place. Some fans are worried that the NCAA could come down hard and make them vacate the championship.

On the U of L campus, freshmen Mehkayla Sanders and Andrew Harpole say they haven't read the book and are withholding judgment until all the facts come out.

MEHKAYLA SANDERS: If you did it, say it. Get it out of the way - you know, probably be less damage, too.

ANDREW HARPOLE: I feel like if it happened, they're going to find out somehow. There's going to be some kind of evidence somewhere.

HOWLETT: University officials say they don't know how long their investigation will take. For NPR News, I'm Rick Howlett in Louisville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.