Katina Powell: ‘This story is the truth’

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I sat down with Katina Powell in late September and grilled her about why she decided to write her book alleging sex-related recruiting violations at the University of Louisville and how she landed on the doorstep of a relatively small book publisher with her five diaries and tell-all story.

I write for IBJ, which is a sister company to the publisher, IBJ Book Publishing LLC, and has its own separate staff. I had no involvement in any of the reporting and writing that went into the book and no special insights into what did or did not occur in Billy Minardi Hall, the dormitory where Powell alleges she arranged for Louisville recruits to have sex with prostitutes.

But as the only reporter thus far who’s talked to her, I am in the unique position of having heard her story first hand. Here are excerpts of my interview I couldn’t squeeze into my Friday story breaking the news of the book’s publication.

Do you think Rick Pitino knew what was going on?

Sure. How can it be going on for four years, that many people be involved and that many people see what’s going on and Rick Pitino doesn’t know anything about it? You have players that are very, very loyal to Pitino. And if they thought anything was wrong or anyone was going to get in trouble, I’m pretty sure they would have gone back to report to Pitino. When I would ask Andre, "Does Pitino know about this?" he would laugh and say, "Rick knows about everything." [At a Friday night press conference, Pitino denied any knowledge of sex being arranged for recruits].

What do you expect the response to be?

I can’t say what I expect the response to be because I don’t know. I’m like everybody else. I’m just sitting back waiting to see. I’m thinking it’s not going to be a good response. People are going to be interested to read it, they’re going to be interested to know what’s going on at the U of L, how they got their players. But it’s probably not going to be a good response from the majority of people because, hey, it’s sex, it’s kids, it’s all kind of craziness. I’m going to be the blame of a lot. I understand that. I’ve been up front and told the truth from the beginning. This story is the truth. This is what happened for four long years. All I can do is tell my story and hope people understand where I’m coming from and why I told my story. I hope people will understand I did this to survive, and when I say survive, people will probably say, "Well, you didn’t have to do that." But I did it for survival, to put money in my pocket and food on my table.

Do you hope that this book will end this type of [recruiting practice]?

I hope it does, but I don’t think that it will. People are going to find ways. That’s what people do. They need the best of the best. They need the best on the court, and they will go to no limit to get what they want.

What do you think will be the impact of this on you and your daughters?

I think people will think that my daughters are sluts and I’m a bad mom and that I prostituted my kids. They’ll probably think the worst of the worst. But I know what I did and why I did it.

Are you publishing the book for money?

Are you asking me if I just did it for money? If my biggest goal is money? If a person asked me to do it just to tell my story, I probably would have said no. I can’t say it or explain it without sounding greedy. I don’t know how to answer that. I do want to get away from this type of life.

What do you hope to be able to make from this book?

A million dollars [laughter]. No, if it’s a dollar more than I have in my pocket right now, I’m fine. I’m hoping it’s enough … that I can take this money and make it make more money, that I can invest in different things.

Are you worried about being sued?

By who?

The university or Mr. McGee?

For the truth? If you can get sued for the truth, hey, … he can get every penny out of me. But it’s the truth, and I’ve never known a person to be sued for the truth.

Why do you think people should believe what you’ve claimed in this book?

I’m not saying people should believe me or that anybody has to believe me. All I know is this is my story. After every show I came home, took my clothes off and wrote about what went on—and that’s just what it was.

Are you worried about your personal safety and your daughters’ safety in Louisville?

Sometimes, yes. I do worry about that.

Why are you worried about that?

Because you have some diehard Louisville fans. You have people who love Rick Pitino. Love Pitino. So you have some people that are going to be very angry. And I don’t put anything past people.

Do you think what Andre McGee did was wrong?

I think Andre’s back was against the wall. I think he had a lot of pressure on him. I think he did whatever he had to do to make the University of Louisville a great team. He found something that worked and he went with it.

Where are you working now?

I have three brand-new grandchildren, so I’m not working at this point. But I have went ahead with a business plan and started a transportation company called Alegend Transportation. With the grandchildren, the kids and the book, I’ve just been thrown a little off track.

What’s your financial situation?

Wow, since I stopped escorting … it’s not the same. It’s a struggle. It’s a struggle every single day. But I make it work.

Are you worried about the media scrutiny, the media digging into every aspect of your or your daughters’ lives?

The only thing that bothers me is about my daughters’ lives. Me and my daughters are so close. My daughters tell me every day, "You fall, I’ll fall. You go down, we all go down together. We did it together, we go down together." I don’t want people to make them look bad or feel bad about themselves. Since I started this, I’ve tried to boost them up, and let them know people are going to say all kinds of things. You hold your head up. You don’t hold your head down for anything or anybody. If you did it, you did it. You should be a big enough woman to say, "I did that, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, I did it." That’s the way we’re going to roll.

What you say happened is illegal. Are you worried about potentially being prosecuted and going to jail?

I don’t want anything that’s going to take me away from my family. How can I be the only one to get in trouble and go to jail, and I wasn’t the only one to play a part in this. I didn’t walk down the street and say, "Hey, there’s the University of Louisville, how about I bring some girls up there to have sex with guys." I was asked to do this. Why would I be the only one looking at jail time for something I didn’t ask for? That’s not fair.

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