Five former Louisville basketball players and recruits have confirmed that a former team staffer paid for sexual encounters with escorts that were hired to dance at their parties, ESPN’s Outside the Lines has reported. One former player also told ESPN he had sex with one of the dancers after the staffer paid them.
The report comes amid allegations put forth in a book written by Katina Powell, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.” The recently published book is based on a journal kept by Powell, a self-described former escort, who details nearly two dozen parties in which dancers stripped and had sex with recruits, guardians that accompanied them on visits and players between 2010 and 2014. She claims former Louisville graduate assistant Andre McGee orchestrated the parties and paid her $10,000 over that span to supply dancers.
"Andre was the one who always had the money," Powell said in her interview with ESPN.
According to the report, the former player that admitted having sex with a dancer said McGee provided him with one-dollar bills to tip dancers. Another former recruit and player said that those on recruiting trips would get to choose which of the dancers they wanted to have sex with. This was allegedly done in an effort to recruit players to play for Louisville. McGee left the school in 2014 and is currently on paid leave at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he serves as an assistant basketball coach, while the situation remains under investigation.
McGee has not responded to requests for comment but head coach Rick Pitino said his former graduate assistant denies the allegations. "[After] screaming so loud at him, his only response was: 'I never got paid any money for anything,'" Pitino told ESPN.
The Hall-of-Fame coach denies any knowledge of the sex parties and leaves the onus on McGee to clear the air.
"I don't know if any of this is true or not," Pitino said. "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."
Among the players named for having sex with escorts at one time or another are Terry Rozier, Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell. Included among the escorts are three of Powell’s daughters, one of which claimed to have slept with Harrell while another claimed to have slept with Smith. During the time period in which the parties went on, Powell told ESPN “all but five or six” of the roughly two dozen women that worked for her had some kind of sexual encounter with recruits, their guardians on the visit, or Cardinals players. Both Harrell and Smith currently play in the NBA for the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
All but one of these alleged parties took place at Billy Minardi Hall, a dorm for players and other students on the Louisville campus.
“The University of Louisville Police Department, in consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is reviewing allegations regarding the men’s basketball program,” university police chief Wayne Hall said in a statement.
In total, four investigations have been launched in response to the allegations laid out by Powell in her book and her interview with "Outside the Lines."