Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Rick Pitino may not survive latest claims regarding strippers, recruits


UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR LINK to the full column on MyAJC.com.

Rick Pitino is in trouble. And he shouldn't be the only one concerned about his employment at Louisville.

Katina Powell, a (pick one) stripper/escort/independent contractor who wrote a book on being hired by a former Louisville basketball staffer to strip and/or have sex with recruits and players, has done interviews with "Good Morning America" and various ESPN/ABC platforms, expanding on details or her claims. ESPN's show, "Outside The Lines," also reported that five Louisville players told the network that they attended parties on  a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers. One player said he had sex with a stripper after the arrangement was paid  for by Pitino's former graduate assistant, Andre McGee.

The tell-all book by "escort queen" Katina Powell.

One of the recruits told ESPN: "I knew they weren't college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club."

These developments significantly advance the original story of Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," which was published this month.

Reactions are typically all over the board on social media, with some believing Pitino can't survive this, even if there is no proof that the long-time college and NBA coach was involved or knew about this.

Former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg Tweeted:

Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan Tweeted this:

And this (amusingly):

Some initial thoughts:

• The story obviously is true. It's one thing to doubt the word of a stripper who's trying to sell a book. But for five recruits to support those claims, even if they're not publicly disclosing their identities, adds a strong level of credibility to the tales.

• I find it extremely difficult to believe that somebody as powerful as Pitino wasn't aware this was going on in his own program. And even if you subscribe to the, "He didn't know" narrative, that's an indictment in itself.

• It's important to understand that McGee -- who's now an assistant coach at Missouri-Kansas City but hasn't commented and has been put on administrative leave -- didn't have the financial resources to pay for the parties and strippers, and that the majority of these claims involve recruits, not players. So somebody had to provide access to both funds and facilities  (dorms). The most likely scenario is that was McGee's superior (Pitino) or somebody else high up in the basketball program or athletic department.

Bottom line: Somebody has to lose a job. I don't see how Pitino survives this. But in the world of high-revenue producing college athletic programs -- which Louisville basketball certainly is -- I guess stranger things have happened.

I'll have more on this later.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.