UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR LINK to the full column on MyAJC.com.
Rick Pitino is in trouble. And he shouldn’t be the only one concerned about his employment at Louisville.
Katina Powell, a (pick one) stripper/escort/independent contractor who wrote a book on being hired by a former Louisville basketball staffer to strip and/or have sex with recruits and players, has done interviews with “Good Morning America” and various ESPN/ABC platforms, expanding on details or her claims. ESPN’s show, “Outside The Lines,” also reported that five Louisville players told the network that they attended parties on a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers. One player said he had sex with a stripper after the arrangement was paid for by Pitino’s former graduate assistant, Andre McGee.
One of the recruits told ESPN: “I knew they weren’t college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.”
These developments significantly advance the original story of Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” which was published this month.
Reactions are typically all over the board on social media, with some believing Pitino can’t survive this, even if there is no proof that the long-time college and NBA coach was involved or knew about this.
Former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg Tweeted:
Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan Tweeted this:
And this (amusingly):
Some initial thoughts:
• The story obviously is true. It’s one thing to doubt the word of a stripper who’s trying to sell a book. But for five recruits to support those claims, even if they’re not publicly disclosing their identities, adds a strong level of credibility to the tales.
• I find it extremely difficult to believe that somebody as powerful as Pitino wasn’t aware this was going on in his own program. And even if you subscribe to the, “He didn’t know” narrative, that’s an indictment in itself.
• It’s important to understand that McGee — who’s now an assistant coach at Missouri-Kansas City but hasn’t commented and has been put on administrative leave — didn’t have the financial resources to pay for the parties and strippers, and that the majority of these claims involve recruits, not players. So somebody had to provide access to both funds and facilities (dorms). The most likely scenario is that was McGee’s superior (Pitino) or somebody else high up in the basketball program or athletic department.
Bottom line: Somebody has to lose a job. I don’t see how Pitino survives this. But in the world of high-revenue producing college athletic programs — which Louisville basketball certainly is — I guess stranger things have happened.
I’ll have more on this later.
•Recent ramblings • Overreaction Monday: Would Richt give Ramsey another look? • Misery like this shouldn’t happen at Georgia Tech • Short takes: Tech’s run of bowls, non-losing ACC seasons will end • Falcons flash some of their ugly past in loss to Saints • Short takes: Falcons still plagued by poor pass rush, turnovers • Weekend Predictions: Spurrier, Cubs, Playboy…and Georgia can still win SEC East! • Spurrier changed face of SEC, and then he walked out the back door • Health would be Spurrier’s only good excuse for retiring in middle of season • Florida quarterback suspended for PEDs — and claims of, ‘I didn’t know’ ring hollow • Overreaction Monday: Chubb’s loss isn’t Georgia’s only problem • There goes Chubb, there goes a loss, there goes Georgia’s season • Short takes: After loss, Georgia is trailing even Kentucky in SEC East • It’s too late to save season but Sefolosha deserved to hear words, ‘Not guilty’ • Weekend Predictions: No fantasy, Chihuahuas will rebound (I think) • Braves may have a plan but it will be a while before masses buy in • Here’s your Depressed Braves Fan viewing guide to the postseason • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance • Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) • Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position • An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons • Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win • Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game • Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue • Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain