Five former University of Louisville basketball players and recruits confirmed allegations Tuesday made by former self-described escort Katina Powell regarding parties held on campus that involved stripping and prostitution.
According to ESPN.com's John Barr and Jeff Goodman, the former players and recruits revealed to Outside the Lines that former graduate assistant coach Andre McGee paid women to strip for and have sex with them from 2010 through 2014 at parties held at Billy Minardi Hall.
Powell recently went public with the claims after releasing a tell-all book entitled Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen. In the book, Powell estimated she was paid $10,000 by McGee for supplying dancers to parties.
The former players and recruits, who spoke to OTL on the condition of anonymity, provided details of the alleged parties.
One former recruit, who ultimately decided against playing at Louisville, had this to say: "I knew they weren't college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club."
Another former recruit told OTL that McGee provided them with money to tip the strippers and negotiated for them to have sex with the women of their choosing.
Powell's three daughters, who allegedly took part in the pay-for-sex scandal, recalled Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell being among the players involved.
Harrell, who now plays for the Houston Rockets, denied the accusations, saying, "I don't know anything about it. I didn't too much stay at the dorm. I stayed off campus. I had a girlfriend off campus. ... It was pretty shocking that took place, if it did. I'm right there with Coach [Rick Pitino], as shocked as he is."
After the latest report, former Louisville player Chane Behanan commented on the allegations on his Facebook page:
The University of Louisville released a statement in response to the allegations Tuesday: "To preserve the integrity of the review process, the university will withhold comment on any details until the review is concluded."
However, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said, "Coach Pitino has no plans to step down and he absolutely didn't know about the allegations," via Andy Katz of ESPN.
Louisville President James Ramsey reinforced Wednesday that there are no plans for Pitino to retire, per Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal.
On Thursday, Pitino released a statement reiterating his desire to remain with the Cardinals, via his official website:
To our loyal fans,
First, above all, I’m sorry we all have to endure the pain of these allegations. I so appreciate your support and friendships.
I will not resign and let you down. Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years but that time is not now. I do not fight these accusations by others but rather turn the other cheek. Couldn't do it at 33, but at 63 it's the wise thing to do. Let's let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball.
Pitino, when asked about Tuesday's report, said he was "devastated" and "disappointed," via Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal.
"There's only one person who can speak on this matter, and that's Andre McGee," Pitino added, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. "He owes it to his teammates, coaches and the university to tell the truth. The truth has got to come out, and it can't just be to the NCAA."
No action has been taken against the Louisville basketball program, as an NCAA investigation is ongoing.
McGee, who is now an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been placed on administrative leave while the NCAA continues to gather facts.
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