CRAWFORD & BOZICH | An inside look at Katina Powell's journals
For the first time, Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich were granted access to Katina Powell's journals on Monday. Here, the present their thoughts on what they saw.
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) — Goodness, what we wouldn’t have given to do this a few months ago. On Monday afternoon, Rick Bozich and I were invited to look, at long last, at Katina Powell’s journals, those infamous documents on which a book that has shaken the foundations of University of Louisville basketball was based.
In terms of the school and its NCAA fate, the recent self-imposed ban and what future penalties it might face, these journals are no longer the center of attention, nor, frankly, is their author, who is less important as a witness than the many players and former players the NCAA has interviewed over the past several months.
But I couldn’t not look at the journals. I had questions. I wrote two long stories asking questions. One about the parties themselves that were described in the book, and another trying to account for the money alleged to have changed hands.
The following is what we found. Because both of us -- along with WDRB photographer Dave White -- examined the books, Rick and I have put this together as a back and forth, just giving our impressions. It’s impossible to examine everything in depth in just a couple of hours, but this will give you some insight into what we found.
The only condition we were given was that we were not to photograph the journals, and we abided by that.
BOZICH: I’ve never been a journal person. I’m not that organized. I put so many of my thoughts into a laptop every day that I don’t have the energy to write more things in a notebook. Besides, anything I jotted into a journal wouldn’t be that compelling.
So I didn’t know what to expect when attorney Larry Wilder said that Eric and I could examine Katina Powell’s journals Monday afternoon.
Wilder led us into a conference room at his Jeffersonville office. He told a few stories about the previous owner of the building – (Papa) John Schnatter’s father. He sat us at a conference table before retreating to his office toward the back of the building to retrieve the journals.
There were five. One was black and smaller than the others. Several had floral prints on the cover, but none had the same design. To me, that suggested she filled one before buying the next.
Most had tabs, which led us directly to entries about what Powell alleged happened at the University of Louisville. Some of the U of L material was highlighted.
Eric, WDRB photographer Dave White and I each opened a journal and started reading. We were there for two hours – and could have stayed two more.
CRAWFORD: I suppose my first takeaway from a run through these journals is that Dick Cady, the co-author of Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen, picked them pretty bare to write the book.
If you’re looking for more than what’s in the book, at least as far as U of L stories are concerned, there’s not much there. He used it all. Nor was there more detail. She did not record a lot of dates, purposefully, though I was able to make some of them out just by their placements between other entries that had dates.
The first journal I picked up was the smaller, black one that Rick mentioned above. It was the first of the five. It began with an entry from July of 2011. That intrigued me, because the first party is said to have been in 2010, though there might be older journals. This first journal had an inscription from Powell’s sister urging her to keep writing, which implies that she had written more before.
Regardless, no more parties are outlined than those described in the book. The last journal encompasses the year 2013, and may run into 2014, I wasn’t clear from looking.
BOZICH: The first journal that I examined was primarily from 2013. I opened to a section where Powell wrote about Kevin Ware and Chane Behanan, two members of Louisville’s 2013 NCAA championship team.
The passage about Ware and Behanan was not included in the book. My guess is that the information that she wrote could not be verified. Or maybe it was determined that it didn’t relate to the prostitution and stripping that Powell said she arranged at Minardi Hall.
I won’t share what Powell wrote here because I can’t verify if the passage was true. But in a way she predicted that neither Ware nor Behanan had a great future with the program after the 2013 title. She was right about that.
CRAWFORD: I was interested to see the ledger page, which is the only journal page shown photographically in the book. I wondered when it had been written, and whether it was a document that was continuously updated, or written out at once.
The page was written in early 2013, about two years into the alleged enterprise. On a prior page, she said she was going to try to make an accounting of all she had earned.
When she added it up, she said she had made “$10,450 or more.” And she had been given free tickets to Louisville games against Long Beach and Georgetown.
BOZICH: Powell’s fondness for Behanan was evident. She wrote about him more than anybody except Andre McGee, the former director of operations who was allegedly her connection to the players.
Behanan’s phone number was featured prominently inside the back cover of the earliest journal. All the entries I read about Behanan were more complimentary than what Powell wrote about anybody else, especially McGee.
But there were mentions of other players, too. Terry Rozier. Montrezl Harrell. Russ Smith. Peyton Siva. Earl Clark. George Goode.
Seeing Goode’s name made me curious about what happened to his career. He played his third and final season at U of L in 2011 and then finished his college career averaging 12.8 points at Farleigh-Dickinson.
I found what appears to be his Twitter account, but Goode has not added an entry since Dec. 12, 2014. His page -- @GGoode1 – features a picture of his daughter and he reports that he is a U of L graduate as well as a professional ball player.
CRAWFORD: As Rick mentioned, more than a few times, dollar amounts or other identifying notes about individuals or handwriting specifically spelling out what a payment was for or where it came from, were written in the journal in different ink and, presumably, at a different time from the original entry.
It’s as if she left blank spaces for the amount to be filled in, either to protect herself or for a reason I can’t imagine. On several pages, the amount earned is written at the top of the page in different ink from the entry.
These kinds of things are interesting, but I don’t assume would pose much difficulty for investigators, who by now have interviewed dozens of players and gotten corroboration — or a lack thereof.
One journal begins with a good many pages devoted to nothing but the transcription of text messages, which strikes me as odd. There wasn't much in these that shed any more light on things, and it's doubtful investigators could use them even if it did. By now, they can establish exchanges between McGee and Powell by other means.
What will be a problem for investigators is coming up with a dollar amount. When I separated out the Terrence Williams parties and those for McGee himself, then wrote down just the campus parties Powell herself described in her book, I found 11 parties or shows in the basketball dorm, plus an encounter with recruit Antonio Blakeney at a Louisville hotel.
Those parties and shows added up to $5,820 by my figuring. This becomes important because the university has basically docked itself $2 million or more from sitting out of the coming postseason. It's why many people have understandably speculated that more may be involved than just these allegations from Powell.
The NCAA has its hands full figuring out just how much money changed hands.
BOZICH: In the three journals that I examined, I didn’t see anything more outrageous than the items that were in the book. (But that’s a lifetime of outrageousness.)
The handwriting was clear and legible. Most items appeared to be in chronological order. The majority of the journals that I read were about her life, not about U of L basketball.
Her struggles making it day-by-day. Her children. Her boyfriend. Her friends. Just the fabric of a complex life in a world different than my day-to-day world.
A few concert ticket stubs. Several pictures. At least five Visa gift cards. Maybe sometimes that’s how she was paid.
There was discussion of sexual activities and stripping shows with clients other than McGee and the players or recruits that he wanted to entertain.
There were entries that outlined the money that she says she was paid to perform. Some of the dollar figures certainly appeared to be add-ons. Folks who doubt the accuracy of her claims have reason to question precise amounts.
But my overall take from looking at what Powell wrote is that she had a relationship with McGee and that over time she also had an understanding of other players. She made observations about their personalities and social interactions.
Wilder said that two representatives from the NCAA examined the same journals several months ago. Chances are that they used them as a road map to the players and recruits they planned to interview.
Wilder showed us how one NCAA investigator called a telephone number related to a Wal-Mart money transfer to confirm that $200 was sent from McGee to Powell in July, 2014, after McGee had left U of L to work at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
Wilder was prompted to enter what the attorney said was one of McGee’s cell phone numbers and a computerized voice confirmed the date as well as the amount of money transferred.
Wilder said the NCAA investigator was proud of himself for putting a bow on that item.
But like Eric, I didn’t find any fresh information beyond what was in the book. Just an outline of somebody trying make it through her world – and somebody whose allegations have been taken seriously by the NCAA.
CRAWFORD: I didn’t come away thinking these journals had in any way been fabricated. Certainly, some of the entries were written after the fact, or with the benefit of time. Some of the early entries in the first journal encapsulate time up to that point.
As Rick said, there’s plenty of day-to-day. Toward the end of our time, Rick was coming down with a headache. And I read an entry Powell had written describing a major headache of her own. At first, she attributes it to too much marijuana, but then she wonders if it’s not something else. She is worried about her father, at the doctor’s office after some kind of accident, and she writes: “Just hold on Daddy. I’m coming fortune ain’t too far away. Trust me.”
On the second page of the very first journal were some words I had not seen, and they have stuck with me. The entry is from July 12, 2011. The passage begins with this:
“I have done shows for half of Louisville and I plan to take over the other half. I am already blessed with beauty but it is so much more when you are blessed with booty (followed by a smiley face).”
Some version of that appears in the book, but the next lines do not: “My goal is Rick Pitino. That’s were (sic) the money is. BINGO!!”
And the dots to the exclamation points are little hearts.
Powell never made it to Pitino directly. But she got there all the same.
As I said, her time as the central figure in this is in some way drawing to a close, though she will always have notoriety as the person who brought this dark chapter in the program's history to light. She could still find herself back in the headlines if a Jefferson County Grand Jury moves to indict her.
From looking at these, I have to believe there is more that the Louisville and NCAA investigations turned up. Wilder told us last week that at least a dozen players had confirmed elements of Powell’s story back when the NCAA interviewed her. I suspect the backbone of the NCAA’s case will rest with whatever players have told investigators.
Interestingly enough, I now have seen what Katina Powell showed to NCAA officials (her journals anyway, not her text messages). I have yet to see what U of L and the NCAA have on their books.
And I’m not sure we’ll get to see that anytime soon.
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