The fallout from 'Breaking Cardinal Rules'

(Source: IBJ Book Publishing)
(Source: IBJ Book Publishing)
Published: Oct. 4, 2015 at 11:53 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2015 at 1:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - This past weekend featured allegations, accusations, investigations, pontifications and one big publication involving the University of Louisville men's basketball program.

Below WAVE 3 News takes a detailed look back at the events that transpired over the past few days.

It all started Friday afternoon when word trickled out that a Louisville woman, Katina Powell, a self-described madam, had written a book entitled "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen." In it Powell claimed that she provided escorts to dance and have sex with UofL players and recruits over a four-year period. Former UofL point guard, graduate assistant coach and Director of Basketball Operations Andre McGee was the point man in the whole operation, according to Powell.

UofL was quick with a response. It called a hastily scheduled press conference late Friday afternoon. UofL Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich was there via teleconference and UofL head coach Rick Pitino was there in person.

Jurich said that he was "disappointed, surprised and shocked," by the allegations in the book.

Pitino said that he shared Jurich's sentiment.

"To say I'm disheartened and disappointed would probably be the biggest understatement I've made since I've been a coach," he said. "My heart's just been taken out of my body and broken."

Jurich said that UofL first found out about the book in late August when the Indianapolis Business Journal contacted the school's Sports Information Department seeking a comment.

[RELATED STORY: UofL investigating book's sexual allegations involving basketball team]

Jurich said it was at that time that the athletics compliance department got involved and UofL retained Chuck Smrt, of The Compliance Group, a Kansas-based firm, to help with UofL's internal investigation.

"Chuck knows he's the most well-respected person, probably, within the NCAA, and the NCAA has been involved every step of the way," Jurich said. "We're an open book."

Pitino said that he contacted several former assistant coaches and players after UofL was first contacted by IBJ and he indicated that "not one person" knew anything about it. He also said that he talked to McGee, who was an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City last season, once after the initial IBJ call.

"At no time did he own up to what's being printed right now," Pitino said.

Within minutes of the new conference's conclusion, Indiana University released a string of emails showing that the owner of the book's publisher, IBJ Book Publishing LLC (an affiliate of the IBJ), was a major donor to the Bloomington, Ind. school and had asked athletic department staff for help verifying a photo for the book. IU also denied any involvement in the book, the accusations or the investigation.

[RELATED STORY: Emails show IU booster tried to involve Hoosier staff in book about UofL]

Later that evening McGee's attorney, Scott Cox, held a news conference in which he said that his client knew Powell, but had "never paid her, or anyone else, to have sex with a player or recruit."

"She's a whore," Cox added. "She's interested in making money.

"She's interested in making money and the publisher of this book is interested in making money."

A few hours later the 104-page book, which contains diary entries, numerous text messages that Powell said she received from McGee and some photos, was released online.

More of the book's details soon emerged.

The first chapter begins with a quote from Powell.

"I felt like I was part of the recruitment team. A lot of them players went to Louisville because of me," it reads.

Among some of the more salacious details in the book were that Powell, 43, took women - including three of her daughters - to more than 20 parties at Billy Minardi Hall, which houses the UofL players, and other locations off campus. She said the women danced and stripped for Cardinal players and recruits and performed sex acts with them. In some cases, she said, even recruits' fathers were serviced.

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 recruits afterward."

Saturday the Cardinals held their first public scrimmage of the 2015-16 season, but much of the talk among fans, and in Pitino's post-scrimmage press conference, was about the book.

[RELATED STORY: UofL fans react to allegations against basketball team]

"One side has come out right now and I think the truth will come out," Pitino said. "We've just got to be patient, let the investigators do their job and move forward."

[RELATED VIDEO: Pitino addresses the media following Saturday's Red-White scrimmage]

He was asked if he had, or will read, Powell's book.

"I'll never look at that," Pitino replied. "The name of that book was motive for money and I'm not going to sink to that level. We're going to get the truth, we're going to find the truth (and) if we did something wrong we're going to own up to it."

Later he added: "You've seen one side, there needs to be another side, and that will come out."

Also Saturday a blog post by IBJ sports reporter Anthony Schoettle went up. The post, entitled "Katina Powell: 'This story is the truth,'" included portions of an interview with Powell that Schoettle said took place in late September.

In it Schoettle asked Powell if Pitino knew anything about what was going on behind closed doors at Minardi Hall. She responded, in part: "When I would ask Andre, 'Does Pitino know about this?' he would laugh and say, 'Rick knows about everything.'"

Schoettle also asked Powell if she thought people should believe her.

"I'm not saying people should believe me or that anybody has to believe me. All I know is this is my story. After every show I came home, took my clothes off and wrote about what went on - and that's just what it was."

Schoettle spoke with WAVE 3 News on Saturday evening and talked about his interview with Powell.

"She believes that she's telling the truth," he said. "I think she does have misgivings about what went on and at some point I think her conscious started to weigh on her."

After its release, sales of Powell's book were brisk. On Sunday, "Breaking Cardinal Rules" was the #1 selling sports memoir on Amazon.

"For somebody to engineer this kind of story with this kind of detail, including the fact that she prostituted out her three young daughters, boy that's a pretty imaginative person there," Schoettle said. "I'd almost call that person a genius."

Early reviews of the book were mixed. One customer review on said it was "salacious crap without a shred of proof," while another called the book "as good as anything Woodward and Bernstein did in the 1970's."

As for Powell, she told Schoettle that she wasn't sure how the book would be received.

"I can't say what I expect the response to be because I don't know," he quoted her as saying. "I'm like everybody else. I'm just sitting back waiting to see. I'm thinking it's not going to be a good response. People are going to be interested to read it, they're going to be interested to know what's going on at UofL, how they got their players. But it's probably not going to be a good response from the majority of people because, hey, it's sex, it's my kids, it's all kind of craziness. I'm going to be the blame of a lot. I understand that. I've been up front and told the truth from the beginning.

"This story is the truth. This is what happened for four long years. All I can do is tell my story and hope people understand where I'm coming from and why I told my story. I hope people will understand I did this to survive, and when I say survive, people will probably say, 'Well, you didn't have to do that.' But I did it for survival, to put money in my pocket and food on my table."

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