Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been adamant in the defense of his basketball program, taking every opportunity to deny allegations by an escort that has led to calls for him to step down.
Friday, he decided to take a different tact – passing on the opportunity to address the allegations on the national stage during next week’s ACC media day.
A day after vowing to fans on his website that he “will not resign and let you down” in the wake of allegations that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired Katina Powell and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players, Pitino announced Friday through the school that he was not going to attend the Atlantic Coast Conference media day next week in Charlotte, North Carolina. His decision comes on the advice of counsel due to the allegations.
“I do not want the allegations we are facing to negatively impact the other 14 institutions on what should be a great event to talk about the approaching basketball season,” the 63-year-old Pitino said in the statement, adding that fifth-year transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, and junior Mangok Mathiang would participate.
“I realize that while many would like to question me on the allegations, the NCAA does not permit me to speak on the subject.”
But while Pitino made news by saying he wouldn’t talk, other principal figures in the sex scandal did speak out on Friday.
McGee resigned as assistant coach at University of Missouri-Kansas City, saying he could no longer do the job as he fights “false” allegations by Powell that he arranged 22 shows while coaching at Louisville.
McGee, a former Louisville player, served as a graduate assistant and director of men’s basketball operations at the school before coming to UMKC in 2014.
In his resignation letter to UMKC athletics director Carla Wilson, McGee said he couldn’t perform his duties as a coach for the Kangaroos while also dealing with the allegations in Louisville.
“The university deserves a full time assistant coach and I am not able to provide that to the basketball team while the false allegations against me are being investigated,” McGee wrote.
Scott C. Cox, McGee’s Louisville-based attorney, told The Associated Press on Friday that he had no comment on his client or the case.
McGee’s announcement was sandwiched between comments from Pitino and Powell.
Powell appeared on ABC’s “The View” on Friday with her daughters. Powell wrote in “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” that McGee paid her $10,000 for shows from 2010-14 with many taking place at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.
Powell and daughters Lindsay and Rod Ni – whom Powell writes performed shows with her – appeared on the show with Powell’s attorney Larry Wilder. They talked about an hour before McGee’s resignation was announced.
Wilder of Jeffersonville, Indiana, said the crime of selling sex for money in Kentucky is a Class A misdemeanor with a one-year statute of limitations for prosecution. There is no such limitation for the promotion of prostitution, which Wilder said is a Class D felony. It is punishable by one to five years in prison.
The attorney added that if Powell is prosecuted, “then they need to prosecute McGee as well because Mr. McGee participated by contacting Miss Powell, paying for the parties and paying for the provision of sex.”
Powell described her involvement as “fun” and shrugged off criticism of including her daughters in the shows. Rod Ni Powell added, “going to the dorm and being around the basketball players. … was fun.”
Powell’s book has led to four separate investigations, including one by Louisville campus police, which announced on Oct. 6 that it was working with Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to review the allegations for possible criminal charges.
Jeff Cooke, spokesman for the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney, said Friday that investigations by prosecutors and police are ongoing and there was “nothing to report at this time.”
There were also investigations launched by the athletic department and NCAA when the school was notified of the allegations in late August.
The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring of a law firm two days later to review the allegations.
On Tuesday, Powell told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” that with “a boatload” of recruits and dancers, “loud music, alcohol, security, cameras” in a campus dormitory, “how could Rick not know?”
SOURCE: The Associated Press
Gary B. Graves