Only one person can clear up what did or didn’t go on at Louisville, coach Rick Pitino said Tuesday, and it’s time for that individual to come forward.
Pitino, in an interview with ESPN and Yahoo! Sports, said former graduate assistant coach Andre McGee “needs to come out and tell the truth” after five former University of Louisville players and recruits told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that they attended parties at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers paid for by McGee.
“I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil by phone Tuesday. “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. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know. … Everything else is absurd. I don’t care about the legal issues. If he’s done something wrong, he has to own up to it and do his penance.”
The allegations have been detailed in a book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” published this month by self-described former escort Katina Powell. In the book, Powell says nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 occurred inside Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes and other students.
Powell told Outside the Lines in an extensive interview that, in addition to paying her $10,000 for supplying dancers during the time period, McGee also supplied cash for “side deals,” which included sex with some recruits, guardians who accompanied them on visits and some Louisville players.
“This is all about money. People will say and do anything for money,” Pitino said of the book. “If these things are not true, and I keep using the word if, there’s only one person who can give solutions to these problems: It’s Andre McGee.
“It’s time to give back to his team, his university and coaches and tell the NCAA the truth and tell everyone else, who was one time very proud of him, the truth. He owes that to his parents, to his university, to his teammates and his coaches. This is not only an NCAA issue here. It’s more than that; there’s more to it — his teammates that believed in him, his coaches that believed in him, the community that believed in him, put our trust in him to do the right things.”
McGee, who declined comment to ESPN, left Louisville in 2014 and is an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is on administrative leave with pay while the school conducts a review. The NCAA and Louisville also are investigating.
“If he’s done the wrong thing, he needs to own up to it,” Pitino said. “If he hasn’t, he needs to say it’s a lie. But the truth has to come out and it can’t be to just the NCAA.”
Pitino said that he’s spoken to McGee just once since the allegations surfaced.
“(After) screaming so loud at him, his only response was: ‘I never got paid any money for anything,'” Pitino said.
Pitino said his nephew, Willie Minardi, lived in the dorm for two years. Pitino said Minardi sent him a text message saying, “I never saw anything of what is being accused.”
“He said he never saw anything the entire time he lived there,” Pitino said of Minardi. “Obviously by what people are saying, something did go on but there’s only one person who knows the truth.”
A Louisville spokesperson told ESPN on Tuesday that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said, “Coach Pitino has no plans to step down and he absolutely didn’t know about the allegations.” The spokesman said Jurich would not be commenting further.