LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The University of Louisville and the NCAA are investigating allegations made in a new book that a former men's basketball staff member paid escorts to dance and have sex with players, recruits and in some cases recruits' fathers.
The book entitled, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," is written by Louisville resident Katina Powell, a self-described madam who allegedly provided women - including three of her own daughters - for the UofL team, and Indianapolis-based, and former Pulitzer Prize-winning, journalist Dick Cady. The book, which is being published by IBJ Book Publishing, LLC in Indianapolis, is reportedly based on hundreds of journal entries and numerous text messages kept by the 43-year-old Powell, who claims she provided entertainment for 22 parties, many at Billy Minardi Hall, from 2010-14.
"I felt like I was part of the recruitment team. A lot of them players went to Louisville because of me," Powell is quoted by the Indianapolis Business Journal as saying in her book.
The book, which was released online late Friday night, identifies Andre McGee, a former UofL player, graduate assistant coach and Director of Basketball Operations, as the one who paid Powell for her staff's services. McGee played for the Cardinals from 2005-09, then was a grad assistant from 2010-12 and director of basketball ops from 2012-14 before spending last season as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. At UMKC he worked under Kareem Richardson, who also was a former assistant under UofL coach Rick Pitino.
"We were very disappointed, surprised and shocked," UofL Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich said about the book's allegations via phone at a news conference late Friday afternoon. "We've been working on this since the end of August, doing all our due diligence."
"To say I'm disheartened and disappointed would probably be the biggest understatement I've made since I've been a coach," Pitino said. "It's mind-boggling to me that all this can go on. I read the statement the publishing company sent out, it made me sick to my stomach.
"My heart's just been taken out of my body and broken," he added.
According to a statement UofL issued late Friday afternoon, it first learned of the book's allegations when the IBJ contacted the school's Sports Information Department in late August seeking a comment.
Pitino said he spoke to McGee once after UofL was contacted by IBJ.
"At no time did he own up to what's being printed right now," Pitino said.
Pitino went on to say that he, nor any member of his staff, had ever heard anything about Powell, or the parties that are described in her book.
"Not one person, not one...not one of us has even heard anything about anyone even being out with the wrong people," he said.
Pitino later added: "We know the motive of these women, to make money."
McGee was placed on administrative leave with pay by UMKC Friday evening.
"The University of Missouri-Kansas city is aware of today's reports alleging wrongdoing by a current UMKC employee while he worked at another institution," a statement says. "UMKC is taking the allegations seriously and we have already initiated our own review of the matter."
Here is the statement UofL released Friday afternoon in its entirety:
"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."