The NCAA slammed the Louisville men’s basketball program with four major violations Thursday, including failure to monitor a staff member by Rick Pitino. This was the result of a 13-month investigation conducted after Katina Powell, an escort, accused former team staff member Andre McGee of paying her and other women thousands of dollars to dance and have sex with players and recruits.
While the NCAA charges against Louisville did not include lack of institutional control, this is about as bad as it gets.
“Just the idea that you could read a notice of allegations from the NCAA that includes the words strippers and escorts in a dorm is kind of insane,” CBSSports.com college basketball writer Gary Parrish said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s not nutty that a recruit had hooked up with a girl on an official visit. That happens often. But the idea that a staff member – a university employee – would actually be buying strippers and escorts for players and their AAU coaches really is like next-level stuff. It looks like Rick Pitino is going to keep his job, Louisville is not going to get banned from any future NCAA Tournament, they probably won’t have to lose their 2013 national championship even though it seems clear that some of the players from that roster were involved in that stuff. If you can do all of this, get caught and then the worst you have to do is miss a single NCAA Tournament, what kind of message does that a actually send to college athletics?
“I’ve known Rick for a long, long time,” Parrish continued. “I like him on a personal level. I know that it must bother him to an incredible degree to know that – considering all the things that he’s accomplished professionally – it’s all going to be overshadowed by this stuff. While I can understand a scenario where he genuinely didn’t know this was going on, it really doesn’t matter. Ultimately, the buck stops with the head coach, and if things are going on like this in your program, you are to be held responsible for it.”
Dirty recruiting is nothing new to college basketball, but for many, this is beyond the pale.
“College basketball recruiting has a reputation that is well-deserved,” Parrish said. “You got to be able to operate in the gray areas – and sometimes even the dark areas – to succeed and flourish at the high level. Not everybody, but lots of people. Even (those coaches) say this is bananas. The idea that a staff member would be bringing prostitutes on campus into a dorm is next-level stuff.”