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The firestorm over the alleged hiring of prostitutes for Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball players and recruits intensified Tuesday with a new report from ESPN.

In a web story and segment on the show Outside the Lines, ESPN reported that five former University of Louisville players and recruits confirmed elements of the allegations. One former recruit, who was unnamed, told ESPN that he’d had sex with a prostitute paid by former U of L director of basketball operations Andre McGee.

Soon after ESPN’s report went live, national sports commentators and Kentucky-based columnists began calling for Cardinals coach Rick Pitino to resign.

Eric Crawford covered the Cardinals for The Courier-Journal and is now a sports columnist for WDRB. In an interview with WFPL News, Crawford said he doesn’t believe Pitino should quit — at least not yet — because it would lead to further turmoil within the program.

Crawford also said he doesn’t believe Pitino will be Louisville’s basketball coach this time next year.

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Pitino has said he has no plans to step aside, and U of L Athletics Director Tom Jurich reasserted that point in a statement on Tuesday.

Many have speculated on whether Pitino knew about the brewing scandal within the U of L program, should the allegations made by Louisville resident Katina Powell prove to be true.

Whether Pitino knew is beside the point, Crawford said.

“The fact of the matter is that in the eyes of the NCAA, the coach is responsible,” Crawford told WFPL News. “And ‘should he have known’ is a question that I think is the right question to ask at this point, and I think that it’s probably a question, honestly, that Rick is asking himself at this point.”

After the ESPN story published and the OTL segment aired, Pitino told ESPN that McGee should address the issue publicly. He has thus far declined comment through his attorney.

(Image via Adam Glanzman/Creative Commons)