REPORT: U of L player told NCAA that an assistant coach blamed bad practice on 'strippers'
Another recruit told the NCAA it was "common knowledge" that the stripping and prostitution were occurring.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The NCAA's ruling Wednesday described an environment at the University of Louisville in which for years the director of basketball operations would leave teenage recruits alone in the men's basketball dorm, provide them prostitutes and give them money to throw at strippers, with no oversight from other officials.
The NCAA "has not previously encountered a case like this," according to the ruling. "The types of activities that occurred in this case were repugnant and threaten the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model."
At least seven of the recruits who engaged in sex acts with women were under the age of 18, according to the report.
U of L acknowledged that the stripteases and prostitution occurred but believes the penalties -- including vacating its 2012 NCAA Final Four and 2013 title -- are too harsh. The school will appeal.
But the allegations in the report are damning.
According to the report, prostitution and strippers were arranged for 15 recruits, a friend of a recruit, three players and two "non-scholastic basketball coaches." Some of the recruits who engaged in sex acts were 17 and one was 16, according to the report. McGee gave the recruits money to "tip" the women, the report alleges.
Two recruits -- including a 16-year-old -- declined sex, while 10 others participated, according to the report.
And while there is no evidence coach Rick Pitino knew what was going on, one player told the NCAA that an assistant coach told the team "that it had practiced poorly 'because ya'll had strippers in there all night.'"
The player felt this assistant knew about what was going on because the coach was "close" with McGee.
And a player told the NCAA it was "common knowledge" that the stripping and prostitution were occurring.
Some of the recruits were left to spend the night alone in the dorm. One recruit, according to the report, said he was staying with a player, but the player "went out for the night and did not come back."
Pitino typically only saw the recruits for breakfast or in his office before they left, and he asked "general" questions about their time on campus.
The first incident occurred on Dec. 31, 2010, when a recruit driven to UofL by his mother was provided three strippers by McGee in the dorm. Following the dancing, McGee asked the recruit if he wanted "anything." The recruit asked for and received oral sex from one of the women, according to the report.
"The following morning, he met with the head coach and assistant coach," where Pitino gave him a "recruiting pitch," according to the report. "They had no conversation about what occurred the previous night."
None of the recruits had prior knowledge of the strippers or prostitutes, the report concludes.
"Some of them expressed surprise and discomfort at what transpired," according to the report.
One recruit was given a condom and directed to a room where a prostitute was waiting naked in a bed. The report says the recruit left the room and told McGee he did not "like the woman."
McGee "coaxed" him back into the room "where the woman performed oral sex on him," according to the report.
Another recruit "didn't really know what (McGee) meant when he asked the prospect which stripper the prospect 'wanted,'" the report says. He declined to have sex with a prostitute.
The NCAA report provides quotes from a 16-year-old about what happened after McGee handed him a condom and sent him into a room with a prostitute.
"I didn't really say much. And she was like, you know, you're nervous, you don't have to do this if you don't want to. And I was like, all right, well, I'm fine then. She was like, well, it's nice meeting you and she left."
The last incident occurred in July 2014, after McGee had left UofL for an assistant coaching job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He called "an escort" and asked her to "provide her services to a highly-regarded prospect" and the athlete's uncle, according to the report.
The escort went to Minardi Hall where a person she did not recognize gave her $200; in addition, McGee wired her an additional $200, the report said.
"To fulfill the agreement, the escort and her daughter went to the hotel, where they engaged in sexual intercourse with (the recruit) and his adult companion," according to the report.
The NCAA tried to determine who paid the escort at Minardi Hall and "explored" the possibility that it was a former program assistant. The escort did not positively identify who it was, but said the former assistant "most resembled" the person who gave her the money.
The university argued that the amount of money exchanged with minimal but the NCAA "does not find it necessary to place a precise dollar value on the stripteases and sex acts."
The NCAA began its investigation of the U of L program in 2015, following the publication of “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” a 104-page book written by Katina Powell with Dick Cady, a former newspaper reporter in Indianapolis.
Powell alleged that at the request of McGee she arranged for women who stripped and provided sex for U of L players and recruits from 2010-through-2014.
McGee declined to talk to NCAA investigators and resigned from his position at UMKC in 2015.
U of L responded to a notice of inquiry from the NCAA with a self-investigation that was directed by Chuck Smrt, a former NCAA official who is the president of The Compliance Group, a company that assists universities in NCAA matters.
In February 2016, former U of L president Dr. James Ramsey announced multiple self-imposed penalties against the basketball program.
Louisville took itself out of the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournaments, even though the Cardinals finished 23-8 and projected as a possible No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament after they finished fourth in the ACC regular season.
Ramsey’s decision was sharply criticized by many Louisville fans because it was unfair to two U of L seniors, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, who were unable to play in the post-season after transferring here for their senior years.
Louisville added to the self-imposed penalties by reducing the number of players on scholarship last season from 13 to 11 and by cutting back on the number of recruiting visits and off-campus recruiting trips and contacts by the coaching staff.
After the Cards sat out the 2016 post-season, Pitino said that he believed the self-imposed penalties should have satisfied the NCAA.
Louisville returned to post-season play last season, finishing 25-9 while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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