Three prominent Kentucky sports columnists are calling on Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino to resign following an expansive report on alleged prostitution in the program.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that five unnamed former players and recruits acknowledged attending parties with dancers who stripped naked in the basketball team’s dorm. One of the former players also told ESPN that he had sex with a dancer, and that she’d been paid by a team staff member, Andre McGee.
Later on Tuesday, Pitino told ESPN for a separate story that McGee needs to address the allegation.
“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,” Pitino told ESPN.
The initial ESPN report included a taped interview with Katina Powell, a Louisville resident who alleged that she arranged for the dancer to perform for — and in some cases have sex with — U of L players and recruits. The incidents allegedly took place on nearly two dozen occasions from 2010 to 2014. Powell first made the allegations earlier this month in a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.”
But ESPN’s report also included the corroboration of the five ex-players and recruits, none of whom were named in the story.
Pitino reiterated to ESPN that he did not “know if any of this is true or not.” He has stated that he has no intention of departing the Cardinals program, which he has led since 2001 and led to a national title in 2013.
But resigning is precisely what three of Kentucky’s most prominent sports commentators believe Pitino must do.
Rick Bozich, a longtime Louisville sports columnist, wrote that there’s “no way Pitino should survive” the scandal.
In a column published on WDRB.com hours after the Outside the Lines report aired on ESPN, Bozich wrote:
Maybe Pitino did not have knowledge. Possible? It’s unlikely, but certainly possible.
But he should have known something.
Pitino absolutely should have know something because this junk allegedly happened in a dormitory that the coach planned, funded and constructed to segregate his players from the general student population.
Soon after, Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan chimed in:
How much Pitino knew or should have known and when he knew or should have known it are all legitimate areas for inquiry. But even if Pitino was completely blindsided by the folly of a former player, who is alleged to have arranged and subsidized sex parties in the basketball dormitory, this does not excuse his lack of oversight or the apparent lapse in judgment that placed former staff member Andre McGee in a position to expose the university to ruinous risk as director of basketball operations.
Pitino’s entree into the state was in 1989, when he was hired away from the New York Knicks to revive a Kentucky Wildcats program sanctioned after former staffers were caught paying basketball recruits. On Tuesday afternoon, Lexington Herald-Leader sports columnist John Clay also called for Pitino to resign.
Pitino should have known what was going on inside the dorm, the one named for his best friend, his brother-in-law who tragically died in 9/11. At the absolute least, he should have known. He should have fostered a culture in which someone would tell him what was happening in that dorm.