LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino remains defiant that his program will survive the allegations in a book by an escort claiming that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.
Pitino said Tuesday that the Cardinals “will get through this the right way.”
The coach told a packed room at a tip-off luncheon that he understands the motivation behind Katina Powell’s book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” but questions the need for the alleged activities given the talent his program has produced.
Pitino added, “We will find out the truth, whatever it may be, and those responsible will pay the price.”
Pitino’s comments twice drew applause from about 1,200 people who welcomed him with a standing ovation.
It initially appeared the Hall of Fame coach would sidestep any comments about the firestorm that has developed over the past 11 days, joking that the NCAA told him not to “say anything about anything.” But unlike previous interviews in which Pitino said neither he nor assistants were aware of the alleged activities described in the book, he questioned the program’s need for them in light of the development of recent stars, including Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng.
“From our end of the thing, I don’t get the `why?’ It doesn’t make sense,” said Pitino, reiterating his adherence to NCAA regulations.
“I know as far as I’m concerned, every coach has had rights and wrongs in their life. But every coach that has sat next to me … knew what I was about as far as NCAA rules are concerned.”
Powell’s book has sparked four separate investigations, including two in the past week. Last Tuesday, campus police chief Wayne Hall announced that his department is working with Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to review the allegations for possible criminal charges. The University of Louisville Foundation announced two days later the hiring of a law firm to review the allegations.
Separate investigations by Louisville’s athletic department and the NCAA were launched immediately after the school was notified about the book’s allegations in late August. No matter what it is discovered or how it ends, Pitino said the program will endure.
“We won’t go by hearsay,” Pitino said of the investigations. “I know what this program is all about and feel very confident in what the players are all about. They will do right things on the basketball court and will represent you exactly the way you want as a Louisville basketball player.”
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