Louisville Response to NCAA Allegations Attempts to Shield Pitino

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the University of Louisville released its response to the NCAA after receiving a Notice of Allegations that criticized Rick Pitino for failing to monitor his former assistant and director of basketball operations, Andrew McGee. In 2015, a tell-all book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” publicly accused McGee of paying for strippers to attend parties in the dorms of players and recruits from 2010-14. The book was written by Katina Powell, who claimed she was paid $10,000 to supply dancers during that time.

In its response, Louisville claims that Pitino “exceeded the university’s expectations” in monitoring the basketball program. Although the school agreed with the NCAA that impermissible benefits occurred on 37 of the 40 alleged instances, it disagreed on the severity of the infractions. The NCAA claims these allegations should be treated as a Level I violation, its most severe penalty, where the university claims the value provided to the escorts was “not a large amount,” and should be treated as a Level III violation.

Pitino responded separately from the university to make it clear that he could not have prevented these violations form occurring. The school argued in its response that McGee was able to conceal the activities not only from Pitino, but from the RA who lived on the players’ floor as well. Pitino’s attorney stated on the coach’s behalf that McGee and players confronted about the encounters “lied to experienced and trained NCAA investigators,” and that “they certainly were not going to tell Pitino.”

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