CRAWFORD | Recapping ESPN's Outside the Lines Louisville scandal - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Recapping ESPN's Outside the Lines Louisville scandal update story

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WDRB) — ESPN’s Outside the Lines Sunday morning ran an update piece on the sex-for-recruits scandal at the University of Louisville.

Among the new elements offered by ESPN:

— A source close to the NCAA investigation says three former recruits have confirmed strip-club type parties and sex on U of L recruiting visits, with former director of basketball operations Andre McGee providing the money.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the parties, saying, “It's a pathetic story. McGee gave the players a stack of dollar bills ranging from $200 to $500. Everybody in the room got the money -- the recruits and the current members of the team. Not only that, but McGee himself had his own stack of dollar bills. If this guy's spending $2,000 to $3,000 on a recruiting weekend, where's this money coming from?"

The source also told ESPN: “There's no question this stuff happened. There's no question the people at the University of Louisville know this happened. Katina Powell is not an admirable person, but she told the truth."

It should be noted, Katina Powell herself, the former Louisville escort who wrote “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” claimed to make just over $10,000 in four years of parties for U of L recruits, though she says she did not receive money for “side deals” — sex arranged for players or recruits through women she provided. She has described in interviews and her book McGee providing banded stacks of cash for the parties.

An analysis of the parties she describes in detail in her books and journals, and of the ledger she later created and which is part of one of the journals, add up to just over $5,600 in money she received.

Speaking to WDRB in mid-February, Louisville professor Ricky Jones, at the time a member of the investigative committee receiving updates on the NCAA investigation, said, "There has been no smoking gun, that, you know, would prove that Tom Jurich or Rick Pitino had any knowledge, gave any money, that any boosters showed up and gave money. None of that. There has been none. There has been no institutional link to those actions other than we had an individual work at the institution doing those things.”

— McGee is pictured on video for the first time since the allegations emerged, driving an Uber in Kansas City, where ESPN investigative reporter John Barr and a cameraman caught up with him and tried to ask him several questions.

Barr, in the back seat of McGee’s car, said to him, “A lot of people want to know where the money came from.” 

McGee responded: “You can talk to my lawyer for any questions.”

Barr made several attempts to draw McGee out on various subjects. He asked McGee if he wanted to say anything to clear his name, and McGee responded, “My name will be cleared. I just need you to talk to my lawyer.”

— ESPN asked to speak with current Louisville player Mangok Mathiang for the story. Powell said, as she asserted in the book, that Mathiang was present for at least one of the parties, but did not participate and did not have sex, to her knowledge.

“I can’t say that he did,” Powell said. “I’m not going to lie. That particular party, he came down the hall, stopped at the party, for whatever reason it was, stopped at the party, outside, we took pictures, and that was the last I saw of him.”

ESPN offered this as a counter to Rick Pitino’s assertion that, “I can’t find one person who knew.”

Mathaing declined comment to ESPN.

— ESPN talked with Powell last week at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, and got her thoughts on several topics. Her strongest response came regarding comments Rick Pitino made in January that she didn’t keep a four-year record and wasn’t capable of writing a book.

“Rick made it personal,” Powell said. “That’s what makes me feel just sick to my stomach. Like I was this liar, ‘I’m surprised she could even write a book.’ Of course I may not have come from the same side of the tracks that you come from, but the only thing that makes us different is money.”

Powell’s attorney, Larry Wilder, told ESPN on camera that the NCAA seems to be most focused on trying to discover who provided the funds for the parties.

“They conclude, much like Miss Powell has said, certainly Andre McGee did not have the wherewithal to fund these events that were taking place in Minardi Hall.” 

— One interesting note. ESPN not only used anonymous sources for information on the NCAA investigation — which is standard practice — but it used anonymous sources to provide opinion, such as one source “close to the NCAA enforcement process,” and not necessarily even a source close to this case, who said, “"If you've got three [recruits], that's a slam dunk. That's the enforcement staff's dream."

Another source “with knowledge of the NCAA investigation,” said of Louisville coach Rick Pitino: “He's not accepting any responsibility over several years. This is not a guy who is turning his head to academic fraud; this is much worse than that. If any other coach was connected to this story, by now he'd have already been fired."

— A discussion afterward featured Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan and ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil.

O’Neil speculated that Pitino might be facing the same kind of nine-game suspension that Jim Boeheim of Syracuse or Larry Brown of SMU received this past season.

Sullivan clarified some comments by U of L trustee Emily Bingham, and noted that she has reportedly apologized to Pitino for comments that involved him.

He also said he doubts Andre McGee was a lone actor in this story, saying, “I have more confidence at this point that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone than Andre McGee."

U of L, acknowledging violations had occurred within its program, banned the basketball team from the 2015 postseason on Feb. 5.

Read John Barr’s complete ESPN.com story, and watch the Outside the Lines segment, here.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved. 

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