Tuesday marks deadline for UofL, Pitino to respond to NCAA's sex - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Tuesday marks deadline for UofL, Pitino to respond to NCAA's sex scandal accusations

Rick Pitino (Source: WAVE 3 News file) Rick Pitino (Source: WAVE 3 News file)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Tuesday is the deadline for the University of Louisville, men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, and two former staff members to submit their responses to the NCAA regarding the accusations leveled against them in the Katina Powell sex scandal.

Pitino is accused of failing to monitor one of his coaches in a way that would have prevented the scandal that rocked the program. That's included in the notice of allegations released by the NCAA Thursday morning, about a year after its investigation began.

However, the report does not accuse the university itself of the two most serious possible violations - lack of institutional control and failure to monitor. 

Still, the university could face additional penalties beyond what it's already self-imposed, including additional postseason bans, a suspension of its Hall of Fame coach and even the vacation of its 2013 national championship.

>> READ: NCAA Report

A notice of allegations is the outline of the NCAA's findings at the conclusion of an investigation into possible infractions at one of its member institutions. The notice of allegations against UofL does not allege that Pitino had direct knowledge of the violations.

According to the report, "the enforcement staff believes Pitino is potentially subject to a show-cause order." The show-cause is the most severe penalty that can be imposed on a coach or individual.

A show-cause means both the school and coach are required to send letters to the NCAA agreeing to abide by any restrictions imposed and report back to the NCAA every six months until the end of the coach's employment, or the show cause penalty. The NCAA could also order additional penalties for Pitino, which NCAA bylaws indicate could include a suspension of 30 to 50 percent of the season. 

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In an emailed statement, acting UofL President Neville Pinto indicated the university will dispute the failure to monitor charge against Pitino.

The inquiry began in October 2015 following the bombshell release of the tell-all memoir Breaking Cardinal Rules by former escort queen Katina Powell. She claimed she worked with former UofL staffer Andre McGee in a sex-for-cash scheme involving basketball players and recruits. Powell said she pocketed at least $10,000 for arranging escorts and strippers for parties at Billy Minardi Hall, the UofL athletic dorm named after Pitino's late brother-in-law.

The NCAA launched an investigation into those claims almost immediately. The report says investigators found that McGee provided "adult entertainment," sex or money to 17 men's basketball recruits or current players, three coaches and one friend of the players. McGee is also alleged to have paid for sex acts for at least two of those recruits at area hotels. The total amount spent on the impermissible acts is $5,400, according to the notice of allegations.  

According to the NCAA, McGee provided the money but refused to cooperate with the investigation. Another former men's basketball assistant, Brandon Williams, refused to provide telephone records after requests from both the NCAA and the university.

In all, UofL was charged with four Level 1 violations, which constitutes a "severe breach of conduct," according to the NCAA. 

The university, Pitino, McGee and Williams all had 90 days to respond to the accusations. The deadline is Tuesday, January 17. The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions will then schedule a hearing within 60 days. The NCAA would then announce penalties against the program, which the university could appeal.   

Under NCAA bylaw 19, the potential penalties for a Level 1 violation include a postseason ban of one to two years, one to three percent of the program's budget, 12.5 to 25 percent reduction in the number of scholarships, a reduction in recruiting activities and a two- to six-year probation.

At an October 20, 2015 news conference, UofL investigator Chuck Smrt acknowledged that the forfeiture of the 2013 national championship was on a "long list of possible penalties" for the violation. However, Smrt said the university did not believe that penalty would be appropriate based on previous cases.       

The report does list four "aggravating factors" which could make the penalties more severe: 1) the multiple violations covered in the report; 2) three previous Level 1 violations in the men's basketball program dating back to 1957; 3) a person of authority participating in the violations; and 4) "intentional or willful" disregard of NCAA rules.

The NCAA report also credits the university with two "mitigating factors" which could reduce the penalties: 1) acknowledgment of the violations and self-imposed sanctions; and 2) a history of self-reporting minor violations. 

Pitino said he thought the school's self-imposed sanctions were enough to satisfy the NCAA. In February 2016, the school announced a postseason ban, and in April 2016, it added a reduction in scholarships and recruiting visits through 2018.

Prior to the book's release, UofL hired Smrt, himself a former NCAA investigator, to guide the school through the scandal. 

"We have to rely on (Smrt's) expertise, so in his expertise and his feelings, we've done everything that we needed to do," Pitino said in a radio interview on 840 WHAS in October, prior to the release of the NCAA's report.

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