The first domino has fallen.
After enduring a week of speculation and some harsh criticism following the release of her controversial book, Katina Powell had at least one key part of her story confirmed.
On Thursday, CBS Sports reported that Ohio State freshman JaQuan Lyle confirmed to the NCAA that his recruiting trip to the University of Louisville involved paid escorts. CBS cited a source with knowledge of the NCAA’s investigation.
“He told the truth,” the source told CBS Sports.
In a book published by IBJ Book Publishing—a sister company to the Indianapolis Business Journal—Powell claimed that she supplied strippers and prostitutes for 22 parties attended by UofL players and recruits from 2010 to 2014.
In her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Powell said she was paid more than $10,000 for her part in the parties not including tips thrown at the dancers and extra money paid for the women to perform sexual acts with the players, recruits and in some cases recruits’ fathers.
The book said the parties and other liaisons were organized by then University of Louisville basketball staffer Andre McGee, who left the school in 2014 to take an assistant coaching job with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After the book was published on Friday, McGee was placed on administrative leave with pay and denied the allegations through an attorney.
University of Louisville and the NCAA have launched investigations into the matter.
“As we have noted earlier, to preserve the integrity of the review process, the university will withhold comment on any details until the review is concluded,” said University of Louisville spokesman Kenneth Klein when contacted about the report regarding Lyle.
IBJ Book Publishing Publisher Patricia Keiffner admitted to feeling a sense of relief upon reading the CBS story Thursday morning.
“Finally, the truth is out there, and instead of us talking about LLCs and boosters and the potential involvement of IU and UK, I hope this [revelation] has awakened the consciousness of the people to look at the exploitation of women and [student] athletes,” Keiffner said. “That’s the story.”
Keiffner said she was not surprised that someone involved confirmed Powell’s story, but was “surprised and happy” at how quickly the confirmation came and was leaked to the media.
“What I thought all along was that a recruit who was involved but did not go to Louisville would be the key person,” Keiffner said. “Our texts were the smoking gun. We’ve encouraged the University of Louisville to get Andre McGee’s cell phone and do the same thing we did with Katina Powell’s.”
IBJ Book Publishing hired multiple investigators to vet Powell’s story including one to retrieve thousands of text messages from Powell’s phone, confirm who those text messages came from and match them with entries in Powell’s five journals.
Keiffner said she has been in regular contact with Powell—and her three daughters—since the book was published.
Keiffner said Powell, who is not currently taking media calls, is in the final stages of securing legal representation.
“The first couple of days were really difficult on them,” Keiffner said of Powell and her daughters, who also were strippers and escorts at some of the parties. “Katina didn’t want to hurt her daughters anymore and was concerned about what they were going through" after the book was published.
Powell has been following the developments of the story through the media closely, Keiffner said, and on Wednesday voiced a belief that “the tone was turning in the right direction.”
Keiffner is confident now that one domino has fallen, others will follow.
“It feels good to have someone confirm what we’ve been saying all along,” she said. “It feels good to move from a defensive mode into [talking about] the real story.”