For Pete's Sake

Louisville disputed ‘value’ of sex acts from prostitutes for recruits in NCAA report

In this March 18, 2015, file photo, the NCAA logo is at center court at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
In this March 18, 2015, file photo, the NCAA logo is at center court at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Associated Press

The NCAA’s report on its decision to punish the Louisville men’s basketball program includes a number of sickening and infuriating findings.

The Committee on Infractions issued penalties Thursday in a case that involved striptease dances and sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others. Coach Rick Pitino will be suspended for five conference games and the school may have to vacate its 2013 national championship.

In its report, the NCAA found that a former basketball operations director (Andre McGee, who later became an UMKC assistant coach) set up stripteases and sex acts for 15 prospects, three enrolled student-athletes, a friend visiting one of the prospects and two non-scholastic coaches in Minardi Hall, which is where the basketball players live.

But Louisville tried to say that the women who were brought to Minardi Hall misjudged the worth of what they did, which included oral sex and sexual intercourse. This is from the NCAA report:

While the institution generally agreed that the “value” of the activities was the amount of money the former operations director paid the escort, it disputed the values the escort placed on some of the activities. However, the panel does not find it necessary to place a precise dollar value on the stripteases and sex acts.

I’d think nearly everyone would agree with the panel on that.

The NCAA’s report says Louisville agreed that the infractions, when viewed collectively, were Level I violations. However, the school submitted that each individual violation was only Level III “based solely upon the assigned monetary value of the striptease dances and sex acts.”

There are many other damning details from the NCAA report.

Pitino said he was “unaware of what occurred in Minardi Hall from 10 p.m. until the following morning, but he often had contact with the visiting prospects on the day following their overnight stays in Minardi Hall.” Pitino only asked the recruits “standard, generic questions” about the visit and if they were enjoying themselves. He also wasn’t present during “unofficial visit activities.”

The report states all but two of the arranged escort visits incidents occurred in Minardi Hall on nights when prospects were visiting the campus either officially or unofficially. The other two were at a hotel. The reports says at least seven, and as many as 10, of the 15 prospects were minors under the age of 18 at the time when the former operations director (McGee) arranged the activities for them.

The report goes into disturbing detail of what happened in Minardi Hall:

Once inside, the former operations director ushered the prospect(s) into the common area of a dormitory room and turned on some music. One or more women then entered the room and removed their clothing while dancing for the prospects, who were often provided cash by the former operations director to “tip” them. Following the dances, one or more of the women would escort an individual prospect to a side bedroom and engage in oral sex or sexual intercourse unless the prospect refused. Two prospects declined the offers of sex acts during their visits, while 10 participated in them. The prostitutes also provided sex acts for two prospects’ nonscholastic basketball coaches and a friend of one of the prospects who had accompanied the prospect on his visit.

The NCAA report says that the former operations director (McGee) arranged the activities through the escort, whom he met in 2010 through a local barber and arranged activities via cell phone. That escort later kept a journal of the dates of the events, the people who were present, and the amounts of money she was paid by the former operations director. “At times, the strippers and prostitutes talked to the prospects about coming to the institution, telling them that the city was nice and student-athletes were treated well,” the report notes.

The events began in 2011 and ended in 2014. One happened after a “Midnight Madness” practice and another while a prospect’s mother was at a local hotel.

According to the NCAA, the final escort visit occurred in July 2014 after McGee had been hired at UMKC. He contacted the escort and asked her to “provide her services” to a highly regarded prospect and a person identified as the prospect’s “guardian and nonscholastic basketball team coach.” The NCAA report states she went to Minardi Hall and a person she didn’t recognize exited the building and gave her $200.

The report notes that “the former operations director also wired $200, part of the escort’s fee, to her at a local store. To fulfill the agreement, the escort and her daughter went to the hotel, where they engaged in sexual intercourse” with the prospect and his adult companion.

This is the most damning part of the report:

None of the prospects visiting the campus had prior knowledge that the activities would occur, and none of them expected strippers and prostitutes on their visits. Some of them expressed surprise and discomfort at what transpired. One prospect (prospect 3) stated that he was in Minardi Hall after a day on campus when a student-athlete retrieved him and took him to a conference room with two other prospects. As they sat in the conference room having a “normal conversation,” the door opened and in came the former operations director with four to five women, who proceeded to perform a striptease dance. After the dance, the former operations director handed him a condom and directed him to another room, where he found a woman naked in a bed. After she tried to “talk to me (and was) feeling me,” prospect 3 left the room and told the former operations director he did not like the woman. The former operations director coaxed him back into the room, where the woman performed oral sex on him. Another prospect (prospect 4) “didn’t really know what (the former operations director initially) meant” when he asked the prospect which stripper the prospect “wanted.” That prospect declined to have sex with any of the strippers/prostitutes. A 17-year-old prospect who engaged in oral sex and sexual intercourse with one of the prostitutes offered that he “really didn’t know too much about what was going on.” Prospect 2, who was 16 years old at the time of his visit, described how the former operations director handed him a condom and sent him to a room to engage in a sex act:

I walked out of the room (following the striptease dance. The former operations director) handed me a condom and said go wait for me upstairs. And I went upstairs for probably 10 or 15 minutes and one of the girls came up to my room and I didn’t really say much. And she was just like, you know, you’re nervous, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. And I was like, all right, well, I’m fine then. She was like, well, it’s nice meeting you and she left.

You can read the NCAA’s full report here.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff