If he didn’t know, he should have.
On Oct. 20, Outside the Lines released an investigative report on the Louisville men’s basketball team. The report will without a doubt shake up the Louisville program and college athletics.
Katina Powell, a self-described former escort, published a book title “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and The Escort Queen.” In the book Powell details nearly a dozen stripping and sex parties from the years 2010-2014 that occurred within Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall, an on-campus dorm for athletes and other students. Powell says she was paid $10,000 by Louisville Basketball graduate assistant coach Andre McGee to perform at the parties and was paid bonus money to set players and recruits up with her dancers for sex.
One source in a tell-all book usually isn’t enough to convict such a prestigious program. Unfortunately for the Cardinal faithful, more came forward. Five former Louisville players told Outside the Lines that they attended these parties as well. They also verified that the strippers were paid for by McGee and that he provided them with $1 bills to tip the dancers.
One recruit who attended these parties remembers them as such: “I knew they weren’t college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.”
Outside the Lines obtained text massages from McGee to Powell setting up these parties. Multiple players have been mentioned within the book. According to Powell, Russ Smith was one of the players who paid for sex as well as Terry Rozier and Montraz Harrell.
In the light of the investigation, McGee has resigned as assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas State.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has continually expressed the fact that he had no knowledge of the alleged sex parties and doesn’t plan on leaving. The athletic director has backed Pitino and assured team members he will be the coach.
You really cannot make this up.
Although we can’t condemn Pitino or the Louisville program just yet, there is plenty of evidence to say these parties happened. In a recent interview Rozier said, “I don’t want to talk about it. … I was already committed before I took my visit. … I will say, though, [Pitino], as far as the dorm situations and visits, he’d go out to eat with the recruits and their parents. As far as after that, he wouldn’t know.”
If he didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know.
Pitino should be fired immediately by Louisville, whether he knew about the parties or not. If the precedent you want to set as a program is that the head coach only cares about on-the-court issues, then your college team becomes a professional team.
If you are the head basketball coach at a university and you bring recruits on visits, you know where they are. If you don’t, you should. Their families trust you to take care of their kids when they come to visit.
Pitino is currently the second highest-paid coach in college basketball, making just under $5.8 million last season. As far as I am concerned, if you’re getting paid that much, you are obligated to know what your players are doing and to help them prepare for life without basketball.
But is Pitino just another product of the corrupt organization that we call the NCAA? When it comes to things like this, what do they actually do about it? The answer can be boiled down to three words: Little to nothing.
Unfortunately, this story isn’t the only college athletics story to hit the headlines the past few years. The one thing they have in common? Very little punishment.
I am a UNC basketball fan. My parents both went there. I know just about every player to put on that baby blue jersey since I’ve been alive. The North Carolina basketball program came under fire for their players taking “paper classes,” which pretty much means they don’t show up to class and hand in a paper to pass. I didn’t want Roy Williams to be fired, but now I’ve seen the light. I would fire him tomorrow, because if it involves his players (over the course of almost 10 years) he should know. Instead, Williams received an extension this past season and UNC men’s basketball is currently operating without any sort of punishment.
In 2013, Oklahoma State’s football program came under fire for allegedly paying their players thousands of dollars, having tutors do their schoolwork, reworking the drug policy to test just some players. There were claims that members of the hostess program used by the team had sex with recruits. After a 13-month investigation that found Oklahoma State guilty of two Level II NCAA violations, the NCAA came down with the hammer that we all hoped would come: one year’s probation and no scholarships taken away.
Head coach Mike Gundy’s response? “We should be doing cartwheels.”
There are plenty of other incidents, ranging from illegal recruiting at Syracuse and SMU to the Reggie Bush scandal at USC. These aren’t isolated incidents.
Like I said before, lets see the dust settle before we condemn Pitino. If it turns out to be true, Pitino should be fired, not because he knew (because if he did he should be stripped of his titles), but because he didn’t. They were his players, it was his graduate assistant, and most importantly, it was the sons of families that trusted Pitino while their kids visited Louisville.
There are no more Dean Smith’s, who graduate 96 percent of their players, in college athletics. The world we live in allows college coaches to recruit young men by whatever means necessary, give them a free education they aren’t required to take advantage of, then throw them out into the world. It is a travesty and the only thing guys like Pitino, Williams, Gundy and others are doing is hurting young men and women in order to win a game or two.
The truth is this: boosters at these schools are very powerful, and the NCAA makes loads of money off these kids—$912.8 million last year alone. The punishment won’t come soon, if at all, and the only individuals who will suffer are the student-athletes.