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Pitino, Louisville Basketball Caught In A Mess

By Rick Bouch

The NCAA recently ruled to suspend University of Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games next season for his role in an alleged sex-for-play scandal. That was not the only penalty imposed on the Cardinals. The Louisville basketball program will be placed on probation for four years and the NCAA will vacate all Louisville basketball records for which ineligible student-athletes competed.

The ineligible players were used between December 2010 and July 2014 and could cost Louisville as many as 108 wins, including 15 wins in the NCAA tournament. It is possible that the 2013 national championship won by the Cardinals could be vacated as well. Louisville must also pay a $5,000 fine, a penalty that was self-imposed.

Pitino called the penalties too severe and unjust. He and the university will appeal the NCAA decision. Many are questioning Pitino’s response given that the NCAA investigation showed that the coach’s program was hiring strippers and prostitutes to help lure recruits to play for the Cardinals.

Andre McGee, a former player for Pitino, was hired as an assistant coach in 2010. He became director of basketball operations in 2012 and is allegedly the one behind setting up the sex parties that as many as 15 prospective Louisville student-athletes attended. McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He left that job after one season after it was learned that McGee was the center of the NCAA’s investigation into the Louisville basketball program.

A self-described former escort told her story in a book claiming that McGee had paid her $10,000 to perform strip shows in an on-campus dormitory. It is reported that 15 recruits and three Louisville players attended those parties. The parties included not only strip shows but performance of sexual acts as well. It is likely that at least seven of the recruits were under the age of 18 at the time of the sex parties.

Pitino has stated vehemently that he knew nothing of these parties. He also commented that over the four to five years that these parties reportedly took place, there is no mention of them on any form of social media. Regardless, what makes Pitino less believable is an incident that occurred eight years ago when a woman tried to extort money from the Louisville coach. With Pitino playing the victim, it was revealed that he did have consensual sex with the woman and gave her money that helped her pay for an abortion.

Whether Pitino knew or not, his $5 million salary commands him to be held accountable for what goes on in his program. A head coach of his stature should have much better control of his program. Plus, how many people work for Pitino? 15? 20? If he didn’t know what was going on, he should have.

Still, Pitino and Louisville will argue that the penalties are too severe. It is likely that they are for they penalize the wrong people – current Louisville players. Cardinals in the program right now had nothing to do with organizing and paying for sex parties, yet they will suffer the consequences of a four-year probation.

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