NCAA accuses Louisville of four violations in escort case
Louisville, Ky. — The NCAA accused Louisville of four violations stemming from its investigation into allegations that a former basketball staffer hired escorts and strippers for sex parties with recruits and players.
The governing body’s report Thursday does not mention a lack of institutional control — 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 NCAA’s letter culminates an inquiry that began with the publication last October of Katina Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.”
Powell alleged book that McGee paid her $10,000 for strippers to perform 22 shows over that period with many occurring in 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.
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 already has imposed its own penalties. The most severe one was announced Feb. 5 — a postseason ban after the school determined violations occurred. A month later, the school announced the reduction of two scholarships along with the number of days staffers could recruit.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich and acting President Neville Pinto said the NCAA notice aligns with the results of the school’s investigation.
“Improper activities took place in a dormitory that never should have occurred,” they said in a 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 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.