Louisville Basketball’s Sex Scandal: Here’s What You Need to Know

The university’s salacious escort scandal just took a turn for the worse.

A salacious sex scandal continues to unravel at the University of Louisville, and a new report Monday from ESPN’s Outside the Lines adds some serious heft to what was an uncorroborated story from a self-described escort.

All told, five former players and recruits told ESPN that they were present at campus parties where strippers danced and had sex with players, recruits and their guardians. One former player, who remained anonymous, admitted to having sex with a stripper after receiving money from Andre McGee, a former Louisville player, graduate assistant and director of basketball operations who allegedly organized the parties.

College basketball’s biggest sex scandal in years is a somewhat convoluted mess of accusations and retractions, confirmations and denials, with many yet-to-be determined consequences. Here’s a breakdown:

What happened?

According to a former escort in Louisville named Katina Powell, McGee regularly paid her for “shows” in the university’s dorm for athletes. Those “shows” consisted of strippers dancing for players, who were supplied with tip money by McGee. The former Cardinal is also alleged to have paid Powell for providing the strippers. Powell claims to have provided dancers around 24 times, collecting $10,000 from McGee in that time.

Powell’s strippers didn’t just strip. “[McGee] asked me, ‘Is there any girls that want to make extra money,’ pretty much a side deal with the players,” she told OTL. Before long the strippers Powell provided began having sex with Louisville players, recruits and the guardians who accompanied recruits on their visits to Louisville. 

Who’s involved?

Katina Powell is the main player here. A 42-year-old former escort, Powell says she kept records of the services she provided the Louisville basketball team, along with text messages and receipts for wire transfers, in case she ever needed to prove that they were in business together. Those documents implicate McGee as the sponsor of her services. McGee played at Louisville for four years before serving on Coach Rick Pitino’s staff. He’s now an assistant at UMKC but has been on administrative leave since this story broke earlier this month.

Speaking of Rick Pitino, Powell is the only person to claim he had knowledge of the sex parties. Pitino himself has denied any involvement. Whether or not Pitino knew about the parties and whether or not that can be proven remains one of the biggest questions left in this saga.

As for players, several former Cardinals were named in the OTL piece, including Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, all of whom are now in the NBA and all of whom allegedly had sex with strippers. Smith and Harrell didn’t respond to OTL’s request for comment, though Harrell previously said, “I don’t know anything about it.”  Rozier provided a oblique comment in which he neither denied or confirmed the accusations.

In addition to those former Cardinals, Powell says strippers had sex with current college players JaQuan Lyle and Antonio Blakeney, as well rookie NBA player Jordan Mickey, all of whom visited Louisville as recruits but committed to other schools.

What happens next?

It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but Pitino and his Louisville basketball program could get stung by this. Some have already called for Pitino’s resignation, though Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said today that Pitino “has no plans to step down and he absolutely didn’t know about the allegations.”

Powell and McGee are both being investigated by the police because some actual crimes were committed here, especially if there’s truth to Powell’s initial claim that her daughters were underage when she began providing them s to Louisville players. She’s since said that they were in fact over 18 at the time.

A postseason ban and loss of scholarships for the Louisville basketball team both seem like possibilities. The NCAA is currently investigating Powell’s claims and the University has a hired an investigator to look into them as well. 

Photos by Rich Sugg / Getty Images