Coach Rick Pitino is in a hopeless situation if self-described escort Katina Powell is telling the truth about services she provided for Louisville basketball recruits and players.
Whether he was totally clueless or fully aware, Pitino should be fired if Powell indeed rounded up dancers who did more than strip. Signing off on such parties would be egregious. Being ignorant of the festivities would be an indictment itself.
The worst part if it happened and the head coach didn’t know? An assistant felt comfortable enough in the environment to hire strippers for the cause. Bringing sex workers to the athletic dorm would attest to the culture within Pitino’s program.
Even as he denies any knowledge of the alleged parties, Pitino must know that Powell’s claims make him damaged goods as much as former assistant Andre McGee. This is the second sex scandal during Pitino’s tenure, which includes one he couldn’t deny. He dragged down the school in 2009 when we learned of his restaurant romp with a woman who later extorted him … after he paid for her abortion.
Pitino survived that public shaming and the woman is still serving an 87-month sentence in federal prison. According to Powell, the sex parties began just one year after the tawdry revelations, perhaps not coincidentally as archenemy Kentucky was leaving Louisville behind in terms of profile, victories and recruiting.
McGee played four seasons under Pitino, spent 2010-2012 as a graduate assistant and spent 2012-2014 as director of basketball operations. Pitino signed him as a player and hired him as a staffer, making McGee part of the Cardinals family that celebrated a national title in 2013.
Pitino professes ignorance if McGee paid Powell $10,000 to arrange 20-plus parties from 2010-2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall. “I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino told Yahoo Sports and ESPN Tuesday afternoon, his program reeling from explosive details in an “Outside The Lines” report that day.
OK. Let’s say he was unaware.
He’s still tone deaf if he doesn’t hear how crazy he sounds.
“There’s only one person who knows the truth,” Pitino said, “and he needs to come out and tell the truth to his teammates, to the University of Louisville, to his fans and to his coaches that have taught him to do the right thing for years and allowed him to be part of something here. He’s the only one with any answers.”
Saying something that stupid should be a fireable offense by itself.
McGee is “the only person” who can speak to Powell’s veracity? He’s “the only one” who can tell us what did or didn’t happen? The story must have caused Pitino to lose his mind.
ESPN reports that five former Louisville basketball players and recruits said they attended parties at the dorm with strippers present. Three of the five players said they attended as recruits and, later, as members of the team
One former player said he chose a dancer to have sex with and McGee paid her. One of the recruits said the scene “was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.”
Pitino can only wish the story boiled down to what Powell says – in her book and during her media tour – versus what McGee says – nothing so far except a denial through his lawyer (who needlessly added that Powell is a whore, duh, and she’s interested in making money, double-duh).
Pitino could be out of luck, though, because this isn’t a rape case with two people who have starkly different accounts of an event behind closed doors. Dozens of other people would’ve attended these parties and many more would’ve heard recollections. At this very moment, investigators for Louisville, the NCAA and perhaps the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are locating and interviewing folks who might have been participants or witnesses.
Maybe Pitino can’t, but lots of other people can shed light on Powell’s allegations. ESPN found a bunch of sources and independently verified incriminatingtext messages and a wire transfer between her and McGee.
“Obviously by what people are saying, something did go on,” Pitino said. “But there’s only one person who knows the truth.”
That’s a lie. The truth is, Pitino should realize that many people know if this happened. And he should be one of them.
Either way, it’s time for his tenure to end. He can’t continue as the head of Louisville basketball if he’s blind to what the tail is doing.
“How could Rick not know?” Powell asked skeptically in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The two-edged question cuts in both directions. It leaves