FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino responds to a question following an NCAA college basketball team’s intrasquad scrimmage in Louisville, Ky. Escort Katina Powell says she has no proof that Louisville coach Rick Pitino knew that a former Cardinals staffer hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with former recruits and players. But Powell said Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that with “a boatload” of recruits and dancers, “loud music, alcohol, security, cameras” in a campus dormitory and others aware of the shows, “how could he not know?”(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville coach Rick Pitino vows to Cardinals fans that he “will not resign and let you down” as investigations continue into an escort’s book allegations that one of his former staffers hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.
In a season preview Thursday on his website, the Hall of Fame coach apologized to fans for having to “endure the pain” of allegations by Katina Powell that Andre McGee paid strippers to perform 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players’ dormitory.
The 63-year-old Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities described in Powell’s book and said Thursday, “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.”
Muhammad Ali tweeted his support for the school from the boxing great’s personal and fan Twitter accounts Thursday evening, saying, “From one champion to another, I will always stand behind and support UofL. GoCards! #UniteLouisville.”
Pitino’s latest comments come two days after Powell broke her silence after the release earlier this month of “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.” Powell told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” program that she had no proof the coach knew McGee paid her $10,000 to arrange the shows that took place in the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dorm.
But Powell said in the interview that Pitino had to be aware of the shows and added that with “a boatload” of recruits and dancers, “loud music, alcohol, security, cameras” in a campus dorm, “how could Rick not know?”
Investigations by the athletic department and the NCAA were launched immediately after the school was notified about the book’s allegations in late August. Campus police announced on Oct. 6 that it was working with Louisville Metro Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to review the allegations for possible criminal charges.
The University of Louisville Foundation hired a law firm two days later to review the allegations.
McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City, which has placed him on paid administrative leave.
Pitino has said throughout the scandal he understands Powell’s motivation for the book but questioned the need for the activities she has alleged. In a recent radio interview and remarks at a preseason tipoff luncheon last week, he said the truth will come out and if the allegations are true, “those responsible will pay the price.”
He said then he would remain as Cardinals coach and repeated that pledge even while saying he has turned the other cheek.
“Couldn’t do it at 33, but at 63 it’s the wise thing to do,” Pitino said. “Let’s let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball.”
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