Louisville basketball coach Rick Pittino said Tuesday that it is time for former Cardinals graduate assistant coach Andre McGee to come forward and discuss allegations against the program.
In an interview with ESPN and Yahoo Sports, Pitino said that McGee, who is currently an assistant coach at UMKC but is on paid administrative leave, “needs to come out and tell the truth” after five former Louisville players and recruits told ESPN that they attended parties at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers paid for by McGee.
“I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino said. “There’s only one person who knows the truth, and he needs to come out and tell the truth to his teammates, to the University of Louisville, to his fans and to his coaches that have taught him to do the right thing for years and allowed him to be part of something special here.
“He’s the only one with any answers.”
The allegations came out in a book called “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” published this month by self-described former escort Katina Powell. In the book, Powell said nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 occurred inside Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes and other students.
Powell told ESPN that, in addition to paying her $10,000 for supplying dancers during the time period, McGee also supplied cash for “side deals,” which included sex with some recruits, guardians who accompanied them on visits and some Louisville players.
“If he’s done the wrong thing, he needs to own up to it,” Pitino said. “If he hasn’t, he needs to say it’s a lie. But the truth has to come out and it can’t be to just the NCAA.”
Pitino said that he’s spoken to McGee just once since the allegations surfaced.
‘(After) screaming so loud at him, his only response was: ‘I never got paid any money for anything,’ ” Pitino said.
Powell told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that she has no proof that Pitino knew that McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with former recruits and players.
But, Powell said, with “a boatload” of recruits and dancers, “loud music, alcohol, security, cameras” in a campus dormitory, “how could Rick not know?”
Former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, has confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Powell’s book during a meeting earlier this month with the NCAA, CBS Sports reported. Ohio State confirmed that Lyle spoke with the NCAA.
McGee, who played for Louisville before becoming a graduate assistant coach and director of men’s basketball operations for the school, declined comment to ESPN.
He left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at UMKC. The school placed him on paid administrative leave on Oct. 2 when the allegations surfaced and said it is taking them seriously. The NCAA and Louisville also are investigating.
UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said previously that director of basketball operations Conner Hampton would serve as an assistant coach while McGee is on leave.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich issued a statement to ESPN on Tuesday, saying that Pitino has no plans to step down and that he didn’t know about the allegations.
Messages left with Powell’s attorney, Larry Wilder of Jeffersonville, Ind., have not been returned. Attempts to reach McGee’s Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, also have been unsuccessful.
Powell told ESPN that she tried to notify the NCAA this spring about her allegations but was hung up on by someone at college athletics’ governing body. The NCAA didn’t comment specifically on the allegation but said it would welcome the chance to speak with anyone with information regarding the allegations.
The allegations have created a lingering unease and uncertainty over Louisville’s program.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, who played for Pitino at Kentucky, said he is 100 percent confident Pitino knew nothing of the sex parties, even if the allegations are true.
During Big 12 Conference media day Tuesday in Kansas City, Ford said: “For somebody who played for him and knows what he stands for and his expectations out of his players and how he does things, I know there is no chance in the world he knew anything about it.”