UPDATE: NCAA accuses Louisville of violations over escort allegations

October 20, 2016

The Indianapolis-based NCAA is accusing the University of Louisville of four violations stemming from its investigation of allegations that a former men's basketball staffer hired escorts and strippers for sex parties with Cardinals recruits and players.

The governing body's report was released Thursday. The letter does not mention a lack of institutional control—considered the most serious violation—but says coach Rick Pitino failed to monitor staffer Andre McGee.

The NCAA's letter is the first step in a process that could extend into next spring according to the timetable of responses and hearings on the allegations. Louisville has 90 days to respond. The school scheduled a news conference for Thursday.

The allegations involving escorts came to light last fall in the book "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen" by former escort Katina Powell. In it, she claimed that former Louisville staffer Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players' Billy Minardi Hall dormitory. The building is named for Pitino's brother-in-law, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.

Powell's book was published by IBJ Book Publishing LLC, a sister company of Indianapolis Business Journal. Investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Dick Cady co-authored the book.

Investigations by the NCAA, University of Louisville, local prosecutors and others followed the revelations. McGee was put on paid leave by the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he was then an assistant coach, and later resigned his post, although he denied the accusations.

In February, then-University of Louisville President James Ramsey said that an investigation by the school revealed that some violations did occur. Ramsey announced his resignation in June.

Louisville has announced several self-imposed sanctions as it awaits the outcome of the NCAA investigation, such as reducing scholarships for the 2017-19 seasons and restricting official recruiting visits and recruiting opportunities for staff. The most severe one was announced Feb. 5 — a postseason ban after the school determined violations occurred.

The NCAA's letter lists the value of the impermissible/extra benefits as at least $5,400 and cites several instances in which McGee hired strippers to dance and have sex with recruits.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich and acting President Neville Pinto said the NCAA notice aligns with the results of the school's investigation. They said the school would fight the charge against Pitino.

"Improper activities took place in a dormitory that never should have occurred," they said in a written statement. "When the facts were established, we acted. We took appropriate punitive and corrective actions. The penalties we imposed were among the most severe penalties ever self-imposed by a NCAA member."

Those self-imposed penalties were taken as a way of possibly lessening NCAA discipline and follows measures used by schools such as Syracuse and SMU for violations. NCAA punishment went further in those cases with nine-game suspensions each this past season for Hall of Fame coaches Jim Boeheim and now-retired Larry Brown.

It remains to be seen whether the NCAA will take the same step with Pitino, who has denied knowledge of the alleged violations.

Right now, Louisville's biggest concern is responding to charges that have cast a shadow over the long-successful program and led to several investigations, including ones by the Louisville police department and the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

Pitino has said in recent interviews he believes Louisville's self-imposed penalties suggested by compliance consultant Chuck Smrt should be enough to satisfy the NCAA.


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