LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Russ Smith Sr. says he is speaking out on the University of Louisville basketball sex scandal parent-to-parent. The father of former Cardinals star Russ Smith is taking on Katina Powell and the bombshell accusations in her book Breaking Cardinal Rules.
"As a mother, you sit up there with your daughters, talking about you kept a journal," Smith Sr. said. "For what? Again, it's a money move. We all know that. So what will people do for money? Anything."
Powell said her three daughters and other women worked as strippers and escorts for recruits and players, an operation she alleges was bankrolled by Andre McGee, a former graduate assistant coach. Powell claims McGee paid her more than $10,000 over four years during 21 separate events, mainly to entice recruits to attend the university.
Powell's daughter Lindsay, now 24, claimed in an interview with ESPN's Outside The Lines that at one of the parties she had sex for money with Russ Smith Jr. The report included a picture of the younger Smith with another one of Powell's daughters, Rod-Ni, taken inside Minardi Hall, the basketball players' dorm and the place where many of the stripper parties allegedly happened.
Smith Sr. said he has not discussed the allegations with his son who is currently in training camp with the Memphis Grizzlies. "And I kid you not, that is one of the things I did not want to ask him."
Smith Sr. said he does not want to distract his son during his preparation for the upcoming season. But he said he does not believe his son would be involved in what Powell and her daughters allege.
"When this whole thing is over we will sit down and see what happened," Smith Sr. said.
Powell also alleges that she and other prostitutes had sex with guardians and parents of recruits. Smith Sr. said he has received several calls from reporters and faced questions from friends about whether he attended any of the parties outlined in Powell's book, or had sex with any of the dancers.
"Come on, man, that's like asking did I have dinner with the First Lady," Smith said emphatically. "Hell no."
Russ Smith Jr. was recruited before the timeline laid out in Powell's book. Smith Sr. said his son was not highly recruited coming out of college, and his campus visit was nothing like what Powell describes. Smith Sr. said the campus visit consisted of dinner with Coach Rick Pitino, a commitment from his son to play for the Cardinals, and a trip back to New York.
Smith Sr. strongly defended Coach Pitino against those calling for his resignation.
"We got to see where these females' credibility goes," Smith said. "Again, they are prostitutes. I mean, you are talking about a Hall of Fame coach. Step down? Nah. He's helped thousands of kids along the way. For him to step down? Nah."
Smith Sr. also rejected the idea that Pitino should be held accountable for a lack of institutional control, an argument now being made by a number of local and national sports columnists.
"If the man say, 'You know what, I had no knowledge,' what are you going to do, beat it into his head and say, 'Oh, you did have knowledge?" Smith Sr. said. "I mean, we understand certain people have to take the hit, but the man had no knowledge. And I'm pretty sure he would never let anything go down like that."
As for the woman at the center of the scandal, Katina Powell was back in the national spotlight on Friday, making an appearance with two of her daughters on ABC's The View.
To Smith Sr. it is just more evidence of what Breaking Cardinal Rules is really about.
"They knew what they was doing with the whole timing and everything," Smith Sr. said. "It's a sad situation, man, and I blame their mom for it, man. You know, you're sitting up there with your daughters thinking everything is cute and okay, but at the end of the day, it's all about a book and we can't deny that."