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Recruiting with sex: Inside Louisville basketball and NCAA recruiting

by: Derek Douglass

The hottest new sports scandal comes out of the famous Louisville Basketball program. From 2010-2014, new recruits for the Louisville basketball team were reportedly partaking in private dance parties, and paying escorts for sex.

This scandal came out to the public by way of an escort named Katina Powell. Powell managed up to two dozen escorts during that four year span.

Powell claims that the escorts were asked numerous times to come to Minardi Hall, a dorm on Louisville’s campus designated specifically for athletes. She also said that all of the activities were organized by the team’s former graduate assistant coach, Andre McGee.

“Andre was the one who always had the money,” Powell told ESPN.

McGee would invite all of the recruits to the college, then bring in the dancers for a show. After the dance show was over, McGee handed the players money and told them to choose which girls they wanted.

McGee allegedly spent upwards of $10,000 for new recruits. All that money was for players, such as current point guard Russ Smith, to have sex with the escorts.

In an Outside the Lines interview on ESPN, Katina Powell’s daughter, Lindsay Powell, 24, told interviewers that she was paid over $100 to have sex with Russ Smith. There was even a photo that emerged of Powell and Smith in the dorm hallway together.

While all of this was happening over the course of four years, the question that comes to mind is: where was Head Coach Rick Pitino?

“I don’t know if any of this is true or not,” Pitino said.

Seemingly everyone is on Pitino’s side of the story. The general consensus is that Pitino had no idea about what was going on.

“I can say 100 percent sure, with zero doubt, that [Rick Pitino] knew nothing about any of these alleged incidents,” Pitino’s son, Richard, who is the head basketball coach at Minnesota, says.

It is slightly baffling that Pitino didn’t even get a sense that this scandal was going on behind his back. The players and the escorts are convinced that Pitino knew about it all along.

“Does Pitino know about this?” asked Powell when referring to a conversation she had with McGee. “He’s Rick. He knows about everything,” McGee allegedly responded.

With two conflicting sides of the story, it is difficult to know whether or not Pitino knew about it. As the story unfolds in the future, everyone who is at fault will emerge into the spotlight.

But, as for now, this story has revealed the cracks in the college sports recruiting process.

Should the restrictions be revised? Should the recruiting process be watched over more thoroughly? Where does the NCAA draw the line of what is acceptable when recruiting college athletes, and what is not acceptable?

 As history has shown, colleges all around the country flirt with recruiting boundaries, always testing the limits.

These big Division I schools pull out all the stops to get the top athletes from around the country to play for them. Luring them with money, escorts, and endless promises.

All to get those seats filled every game, keeping the revenue up at all costs.

It is a troubling thought, thinking about what goes on at each college behind closed doors. Students should be able to choose where they go to school based on what they want. Bribing a student is part of the gig. But, when it gets inappropriate, the NCAA must respond immediately and effectively.

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