CHICAGO – The truth about allegations of a sex scandal that has rocked the University of Louisville and reverberated around the country will come out eventually, Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino said repeatedly Thursday.
Just what that truth is, well, Pitino isn’t sure.
At Big Ten Media Day, Pitino addressed for the first time the accusations detailed in a recently released book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” with first-hand accounts from Katrina Powell.
The book claims that former Cardinals basketball operations director Andre McGee paid Powell and other escorts thousands of dollars and gave them game tickets in exchange for dancing for and having sex with players, recruits and parents of recruits from 2010 to ’14.
Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, was the Cardinals associate head coach in 2011-12.
“When you hear things like that it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” he said. “… I don’t think any staff in the country would know about that and turn a blind eye. To me, it just, it never happened.
“The truth will come out eventually. Everyone is kind of guessing right now, they’re all allegations.”
The elder Pitino, a 41-year coaching veteran with two national championships and seven Final Fours who has been at Louisville since 2001, has also publicly said he had no knowledge of the incidents alleged. Louisville and the NCAA are investigation the claims. Richard Pitino said no one has reached out to him yet.
The book contains details about conversations, texts and events, and includes some pictures. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish reported last week that Ohio State freshman and former Louisville recruit JaQuan Lyle confirmed the allegations to an investigator.
“I know what my dad is all about, I know the program that he runs,” Richard Pitino said. “You’ve got to understand, he’s been doing this for 40 years — and he’s run a clean program for 40 years. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt here.
“…I told him — put your head on the pillow at night knowing you did nothing wrong. I know that for a fact.”
The Gophers open the season vs. Missouri-Kansas City, where McGee is an assistant coach, although he is currently on administrative leave. Pitino, when asked about scheduling the Kangaroos, quickly pointed out that he also has a relationship with UMKC coach Kareem Richardson, who worked as an assistant for the elder Pitino the year after Richard Pitino left for the head job at Florida International.
Richard Pitino said he has not tried to reach out to McGee.