On Friday, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino addressed the escort scandal surrounding his program and the allegations made by Katina Powell.
Powell, a former Louisville-based escort, detailed her provision of strippers and prostitutes for Cardinals players and recruits from 2010–2014 in a controversial book, Breaking Cardinal Rules, published in October 2015, alleging that former assistant coach Andre McGee arranged for the visits as a recruiting tactic. During a press conference, Pitino spent significant time weighing in on the issue, which was the first time he’s spoken at length about it since his initial reactions to the news.
At the presser, Pitino was first asked about the end of Louisville’s loss to Kentucky on Dec. 26, after which Kentucky fans accused him of making an inappropriate gesture toward them. He also skipped the press conference after the game, adding to the controversy. Pitino clarified that he did not give Kentucky fans the middle finger, and that he decided 36 hours prior that he would not appear before reporters post-game because it was a “very emotional game” for him. Pitino coached the Wildcats from 1989–1997 before leaving to coach the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
“When we go into a press conference in a neighborhood like that, I don’t want to hear about the scandal, O.K.? I don’t want to hear about that,” he told reporters. “That has bothered me every single night.”
Powell’s attorney, Larry Wilder, responded with a statement to WDRB later on Saturday.
“I find it difficult to believe that anyone at IBJ would have been as hateful and mean-spirited about Ms. Powell as Coach Pitino has stated,” Wilder said. “During my meetings with IBJ staff and ownership they have all been very respectful of her and her family. These gratuitous statements are clearly offered as a distraction to the truth. The NCAA went through each page of Ms. Powell’s five journals. There were hundreds and hundreds of pages written about a myriad of events going on in her life during those several years that she was involved with Mr. (Andre) McGee providing ‘entertainment’ at the university. It is very clear that the journals weren’t created for the singular purpose of impugning the university. There are a litany of players that have confirmed these events.”
Read Pitino’s full comments below (according to WDRB.com).
“What bothers me about you (turning to WDRB journalist Rick Bozich) is you say, I know everybody’s body fat, you must know about this (events in the dorm). That pisses me off, beyond your wildest dreams. Because that took place in Billy Minardi Hall, and we didn’t get one recruit. Somebody criminally came onto our campus. I’m pissed off at ESPN for even giving a forum to that person. If there are crimes—now I didn’t read the book, you guys read the book, so I only know what people tell me—but if there are crimes being committed, why is the NCAA or ESPN giving a forum to that person. If there are crimes, now I don’t know if there are crimes being committed.
The NCAA is upset at me because if I say, I can’t find one person, not one, that knew anything about it, the NCAA says you’re intimidating the witnesses. That wasn’t my intent to say that. So that’s why I didn’t go to media day. They’re telling me I’m intimidating. Well, soon as this happened, I went ballistic on everybody. Wait a second. You didn’t know one, single thing? The security person. You never saw a thing in four years and you worked for four years around the clock? No. Well the answer’s obvious isn’t it, Rick, isn’t the answer obvious? The reason that nobody saw anything, they knew that all hell would break loose if I found out that one, single thing was going on. That would be the obvious thing to me. So I don’t want to put myself out on a press conference like that, not for you, not for you, you’ve already asked your questions. But for other people who are going ask that question that you just had to ask—you wouldn’t ask it, but you’re working for people.
So I’m not going to say no comment. I’m not going to say it. I’m too old. I don’t care, O.K.? So I’m not going to say it. There’s only one good thing about being 63, is you don’t care what people think anymore. It’ the only thing? Am I right, Tim (Sullivan), do you care anymore? (Sullivan answers, ‘I’m not 63.’) I thought you were in your seventies. But that’s really the only good thing. So it bothers me because I’ve got a lot of failings in my life. We all know what I’ve been through. But one failing is, I’m totally complaint to the rules of the NCAA. I don’t believe in breaking any of those things. At all. And if anything, what was going on, if things did go on the way they say it, we weren’t going to get one player. I still can’t figure out, when it’s all said and done, why? Why was this being done? I don’t understand. It’s the only question that I would love to get answered. I don’t understand why. None of it makes sense to me. So I believe, and I have to thank Eric publicly because he’s the only guy that said, I’m going to show you that this, I know one thing, that guy’s the cheapest guy I’ve ever been around in my life, I know those numbers, and Eric did it, said follow the money trail, and showed it wasn’t that money. He proved it. He proved the inaccuracies in the book.
When we went up there, and I’ll leave it with this, and 2016 is hopefully going to be a better year, when [Louisville senior associate athletic director for media relations] Kenny Klein and John Carns [senior associate athletic director for compliance] went up there (to Indianapolis) to this book company to find out what’s going on, what can we investigate, what can we do? They made a statement that was interesting. I don’t know if it was a racist statement, I don’t know. Correct me if I’m wrong on this. The statement was made, ‘You mean to tell me this person kept a four-year log of everything that was going on? Wrote a journal about this?’ (Answer) No, no, we wrote it. She can’t complete two sentences the right way to write a book. That was said. Is that the way it was said? (Turning to Klein, who said, somewhat, yes. That’s about what was said.) So you mean to tell me a book was written, a four-year record was kept? There was no four-year record. You’ve got to be kidding me. So nobody goes after, ESPN doesn’t go after, are you telling the truth? Did you keep a four year journal? Did you write it? Or was it written just to get this book out because the excerpts were going to be given to The Courier-Journal or The Courier-Journal was going to get hold of it? There’s a lot of things I’m bothered by, every, single night that I go to bed.
I’m really bothered by the fact that you (Bozich) think I knew something because I knew everybody’s body fat. Because of the amount of time I’ve known you, thinking that even in your wildest dreams think I would do something like that in Billy Minardi Hall. Now you might think because of my personal failings 10 years ago, oh yeah that’s ... Well, I’m bothered by that, but you have a right to your opinion, and I have a right to my opinion. (Bozich: ‘That’s fair.’) I speak to you just professionally, even though, and I was just told this by the way the other day when I was in Miami, for the first time. So I’m bothered by this a lot, when I go to bed at night, I bothered by a lot of all of this, because of my beliefs in how a program should be run. I’m not too sure that a lot of these things are the truth. And the only one who has gotten to the bottom of this is Eric Crawford where, it’s not the truth. Here they’re saying they kept a journal for four years, but can’t complete two sentences. Something’s not right here. I think you’ve got to follow the money trail. And then 11 people are suing her saying it’s not the truth. Is it 11? Whatever the number is out there. So I don’t know what’s going on with all this, but I know that everybody gave a forum to this person who may have committed criminal acts. But nobody went after her. Was this true? Was your daughter 18, was it 16, how much money, where’d the money come from? I don’t know any of that. It’s bothered me every, single night. So if I don’t want to do a press conference, it’s because it’s a very emotional time. It’s not because I lost a game. I’ve done press conferences for 40 some-odd years. Give me a break. We lost a game. It’s not going to be because of that. I’m not going to say no comment anymore, because I don’t care at 63. I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And I want to clean it up. If there are somethings that have to be cleaned up—I know one thing, why I didn’t know about it: I guarantee if a chair gets broken at Minardi Hall and I find out about it, there’s going to be a problem. So you can bet if something like that was going on I’d be the last to find out about it, because all hell would pay. Right away. The moment it happened. All hell would pay.
But, and just to answer some of the points, there are security people that are good people. One guy I had more complaints about, that he was too hard on our players, too hard, all the time, and the more I heard that he was too hard, the more I liked him. That’s good. That’s the type of guy I want running the dormitory. So did he sneak them through the back door? Did they hide in the room? I have no idea. But I guarantee you if anybody knew about it, and it got back to me, all hell. And I really feel the same way about my assistant coaches, the same way about them. I think they’re an extension of me. I think if they would have known anything, all held would have broken loose. So in 2016, this will be the last time I ever mention it. But I am getting it off my chest now, because I want to say it one time. And I really don’t care about what anybody thinks, why I don’t show up at a press conference, I couldn’t care less. There’s a reason for it. It’s not because we lost a basketball game. It was a terrific—when we lost to Duke (at Kentucky), I always say it was one of the greatest games ever played. So if I wasn’t afraid to meet the press in the most difficult loss of all time. So come on, give me a break with that stuff. If I show up for Duke, I think I can show up for that. And by the way, the Final Four was at stake in that game.”