Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he will not resign amid allegations surrounding the men’s basketball program and its use of escorts in recruiting players.
Pitino released a statement Thursday apologizing to fans and making his intentions to remain in his position clear.
“First, above all, I’m sorry we all have to endure the pain of these allegations,” Pitino wrote. “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.”
A book released this month alleged that Andre McGee, a former member of the Louisville coaching staff who now works at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, paid for escorts to dance for recruits during their campus visits and in some cases, have sex with them. The NCAA is investigating the book’s claims along with Louisville campus police, which were corroborated by an ESPN report Tuesday that included interviews with five former Cardinals players and recruits.
Head coach Rick Pitino has said that McGee, who now coaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has been placed on paid leave, denied the allegations. Pitino has also denied any involvement in or knowledge of the situation.
“I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino said Monday, according to ESPN. “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. He’s the only one with any answers.”
Former recruit Terry Rozier, who Powell wrote is one of several recruits to have sex with an escort during a visit to Louisville, also said he believed Pitino was not aware of the parties.
The former players and recruits who spoke with ESPN’s Outside the Lines said they attended parties at which escorts were present during that time period, and that McGee gave them money to tip the dancers and to pay for them to have sex. Katina Powell, the book’s author, who says she is a former escort who led the operation, said that McGee also paid the escorts to have sex with recruits’ parents and guardians.
SI's Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans reported earlier this month that the NCAA was reaching out to multiple recruits from the period to ask about the allegations.
The Cardinals landed a commitment from a three-star recruit on Tuesday, amid the scandal.
- Jeremy Woo