Louisville campus police now say they are reviewing allegations that a former men’s basketball staffer hired escorts to dance and have sex with recruits and players in a dormitory.
Katina Powell has alleged in a book released online over the weekend that former Cardinals director of basketball operation Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for dancers to perform 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory. The school reported those allegations to the NCAA and has launched an investigation.
“The University of Louisville Police Department, in consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is reviewing allegations regarding the men’s basketball program,” University police chief Wayne Hall said Tuesday in a statement.
It was the first confirmation that police are looking into the allegations. When contacted last week, a campus police operator said they weren’t aware of the book allegations, and it was unclear at that time if an investigation had been launched.
Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has said that McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In an interview Tuesday with a Louisville radio station, the Hall of Famer also denied knowledge of what took place.
“Until you investigate everything that’s said, you don’t have the answers to these (questions),” Pitino told FM 93.9 The Ville, “and I certainly don’t have any answers right now to any of this. I have no idea what went on, what didn’t go on, if anything went on.”
McGee left in 2014 and is currently an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City, which has put him on paid leave. He has been unavailable for comment, and his Louisville attorney, Scott Cox, had nothing to add either when contacted by The Associated Press.
“I have no comment about the case at all. Sorry,” Cox said.
Pitino said Saturday that he hasn’t read Powell’s book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” and doesn’t plan to. The 104-page book was published by an affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal and is scheduled for hardcover release Oct. 12.
The woman said that she and three of her daughters, along with other women, danced and stripped for Louisville recruits and players and performed sex acts with them, according to the book. Powell wrote that one daughter was 15 when she began dancing with her mother and her sisters.
Powell, 43, also said McGee offered recruits alcohol at those parties.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas B. Wine said in a statement that those allegations of criminal activity “cause grave concern to him and the community.” Wine said his office is consulting with university police and the LMPD’s Crimes Against Children Unit.
“If my office receives credible evidence of sexual abuse or other criminal activity involving minor children, we will vigorously prosecute those responsible for those crimes,” Wine said in the statement.
Upon hearing of the allegations, Pitino said he did some investigating on his own before being told by the school’s compliance department not to talk to players. But the coach said he talked to other assistants about the allegations and all of them denied knowing of the activities outlined in Powell’s book.
“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Louisville has hired Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group, which assists schools in NCAA cases, to review the allegations.
In the radio interview Tuesday Pitino recalled the challenge of rebuilding in-state rival Kentucky after the program was slapped with NCAA probation in the late 1980s. He noted that the Wildcats fought through the problems, found a solution and eventually became national title contenders and champions in 1996, which wouldn’t have been possible if he had focused on the previous problems.
Pitino said Louisville’s challenge is getting to the bottom of the allegations and finding the truth.
“We’ve got to find the solutions to what’s true and not true,” Pitino said. “Right now there’s only one person that has the answers, and he’s not talking. So the NCAA’s got to go in and do their due diligence with other people. And that’s none of my business. I believe in the NCAA.
“If we’re guilty of something, we’re going to own up to it, we’re going to find a solution.”
AP freelancer Josh Abner in Louisville contributed to this report.