CRAWFORD | Why the NCAA doesn't need Katina Powell in its Louisville investigation
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDRB) — Another day, another Katina Powell interview in which she contradicts her book. But in reality, it probably doesn’t matter.
Powell’s attorney, Larry Wilder, appeared on ESPN 680 in Louisville on Tuesday and told host Jason Anderson that whether his client talks to the NCAA, or to the University of Louisville, will depend on whether she can receive some kind of immunity from the courts.
In other words, she’s not talking to the NCAA. Technically, there is no statutory immunity in Kentucky. And a U.S. attorney offering her some kind of deal is a longer shot than a No. 15 seed beating a No. 2. (It happens, but is very unlikely here.)
But it doesn’t matter. Here’s why. The NCAA doesn’t need Powell, her book, her journals, or, to a lesser degree, Andre McGee, to conclude its investigation into her allegations.
I’ll point it out, just because it’s interesting, but Powell said on Wednesday, in an interview with CBS radio host Doug Gottlieb, that she already had put on one stripper/sex show in Minardi Hall before meeting Louisville then-graduate assistant Andre McGee.
“I had already did a show at Minardi Hall, and then I was introduced to Andre, and then Andre asked me, would I be interested in coming back doing more shows for recruits, and I said yes,” Powell told Gottlieb, who conducted what I think is probably the most enlightening interview with her of all the national people I’ve heard.
Her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” clearly states of her first visit to Minardi Hall, “McGee met the women at the side door.” (Page 5)
McGee is even quoted: “I’m McGee, how you doing? The girls look good.”
First visit. First meeting of McGee. Pretty clear. The book does say that McGee didn’t pay that night — but it also says they met then.
By now, I’ve pointed out all these inconsistencies, because they are curious. And if author Dick Cady built his narrative from her journals, then clearly, those may well be fictitious or highly unreliable. My guess is they are. There is a value in those examinations if only to remind us that the early narratives built completely on the allegations should not be fixed in our minds as the complete truth until we hear all sides. (A reader has asked me to point out that Powell is consistent in one regard in this -- the first meeting was not arranged or paid for by McGee. So I'll do that here, as I did it in my original story on the timeline of shows linked in this paragraph. It doesn't change that her story on the radio differed from the way the night is presented in her book, which leaves the impression that McGee introduced himself to her at the beginning of that night, and commented on her girls.)
But that’s not the important point. Even if Powell’s book is wrong in parts, it doesn’t mean she is wrong. She may mess up her recounting of events, she may be making up some, the book itself may have gotten things wrong, but the simple question is this: Did she throw parties in Minardi Hall for recruits, and get paid to do it? (The book itself seems to hold out this "middle road" possibility, in Chapter 9, when it says, "If only a portion of the encounters happened as interviews and records suggest they did, it raises important questions, etc.)
Unfortunately for Powell, especially if her attorneys are hoping to barter immunity to have her talk to the NCAA or U of L (I know, courts could not care less about that, but let’s go with this for a second), the NCAA doesn’t need her, or her book, to find the truth in these allegations.
In fact, the NCAA would prefer NOT to base its findings on her testimony or journals — though I suspect it would like to get a look at her texts, just to examine McGee’s involvement..
The NCAA has a perfectly sufficient way of getting at the truth of these allegations on its own. It knows the dates of all 43 official visits U of L had between 2010 and 2014, and it knows the names of all those visitors. And you’d better believe, it will talk to them all — or at least as many as will talk.
The NCAA made some mistakes in its handling of the Miami infractions case involving booster Nevin Shapiro. Its investigators were getting info from an attorney in the case, and there were allegations that it had gathered information it shouldn’t have had from his voluminous bankruptcy proceedings (I confess, I don’t see what’s wrong with that, but I digress).
It had to pull back on some of that, and go about building the case as much on its own as it could. My guess here is that the NCAA — with U of L investigator Chuck Smrt working alongside, by the way — has been building via its own corroboration from the start, without considering much of what Powell wrote, except as perhaps a guide or starting point.
In its notice of infractions to Miami, the NCAA wrote, “The committee sought, and in most instances found, corroboration through the statements of individuals other than the booster, as well as through supporting documentation.”
The question then becomes, who talks?
Many in the media have accepted that Louisville will face sanctions based on ESPN getting three former players and two former recruits to confirm parts of Powell’s story. I have confirmation from a source close to the investigation that one former player has confirmed to investigators that there were strippers in the dorm. (ESPN then quoted a player saying they were just “girls in their bathing suits.”) How do you differentiate? My own definition: If the bathing suit has $1 bills tucked into it, that’s when the nomenclature moves to stripper. Again, I digress.
The point here: The NCAA can’t really take a media report and turn it into confirmation. And it’s one thing for a former player or recruit to tell ESPN something happened, but another thing entirely for them to ‘fess up to the NCAA.
It’s only if the NCAA hits a complete stone wall, I suppose, that it would need Powell’s help in identifying details that it can then take back to witnesses. But given how Powell is waffling on some basic details, that’s a case of last resort.
More likely is that the NCAA finds a few players who will acknowledge the transgressions — most likely players Louisville recruited who went elsewhere, or former players who weren’t thrilled when they transferred out, like Zach Price, Angel Nunez or Shaqquan Aaron.
Regardless, the NCAA can build an entire case based on its own investigation alone. That, I believe, is the first line of investigation it is pursuing, with any possible paper trail being close behind.
Between that, and having every scrap of evidence at U of L at its disposal, every email, every text message record, every entry log to the dorms, every worker who manned the dorms, it’s hard to believe that the NCAA won’t get an entirely accurate picture of what went on.
U of L has to hope that the NCAA doesn’t find more than it bargained for.
It’s my belief, based on a close reading of her book, that Powell’s claims are to some degree exaggerated, but based on subsequent corroboration, also not altogether false. As I’ve said, the scope of what happened, and how it happened, likely will tell the tale on what kind of NCAA action Louisville faces.
The public, it seems to me, drifts to one invalid argument or another. We should beware of logical fallacies, especially the fallacy of composition: What is true for the part, is true for the whole. Doesn't work that way, nor for the inverse (some small details are false, therefore the whole thing is false). Those arguments are invalid. I think that's right. I dropped logic after a couple of weeks to make my headaches stop. I'm sure a professor can set me straight if I'm not using it correctly.
The biggest problem, in my mind, for the NCAA, will be in documenting McGee’s role, and in determining how much money changed hands -- and where it came from. Clearly, from Powell’s telling, there are some gaps in how much she says she made and how much she demonstrates she was paid in her book.
At some point, U of L and the NCAA will come to a set of mutually agreed-upon facts in this, and then will discuss penalties, if any are warranted. But though she started this ball rolling, I don’t think the NCAA needs her help to keep it going.
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