The University of Louisville is investigating allegations that former Cardinals men's basketball staffer Andre McGee brought escorts into dorm parties, and paid for the women to strip and have sex with recruits, their fathers and players.
Those allegations by Katina Powell are in an upcoming book, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen, from a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. Some details of the book were published on the Journal's website, noting during a four-year period many of the activities allegedly took place in the players' dormitory.
Louisville officials said they learned of the allegations in late August and immediately notified the NCAA.
Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino said the situation caused sleeplessness when he first found out and said that he tried to conduct his own investigation before being rebuffed by the school's compliance office.
"To say I'm shocked, I just can't fathom, can't believe it," Pitino said. "My heart's been taken out of my body and is broken.
"It's mind boggling to me how all this could go on," he said. "I've read that the statement that the publishing company put out and it almost got me sick to my stomach."
Pitino said McGee denied the allegations in a brief conversation.
"I spoke to Andre one time," Pitino said. "I just asked him a few questions. I don't want to speak for him. I'll let Andre speak for himself. At no time did he own up to any of what's being printed right now.
McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City. That school put McGee on paid leave Friday night and issued a statement saying the allegations were being taken seriously.
"The University of Missouri-Kansas City is aware of today's reports alleging wrongdoing by a current UMKC employee while he worked at another institution," a release from the school said. "We have already initiated our own review of the matter."
The Journal's summary of the book said that Powell brought women to 22 parties from 2010 to 2014 at Billy Minardi Hall, which houses Cardinals basketball players.
The woman said that she and three of her daughters, along with other women, danced and stripped for Louisville recruits and players and performed sex acts with them, according to the book. Powell, 43, also said McGee offered recruits alcohol at those parties.
In the book, Powell said that McGee initially brought women into the dorm through a side door. The process evolved to the point where the escorts entered and left the building through the front entrance and had become familiar to staff.
Scott Cox, an attorney retained by McGee, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that McGee "told us that he is not guilty of these allegations, that he has never supplied a prostitute or escort to a player or recruit at the University of Louisville." Cox told the newspaper that McGee knew Powell but there "was certainly nothing nefarious or inappropriate at all" and that Powell "is interested in making money."
The age of consent to have sexual intercourse in Kentucky is 16, though in some instances it could be 18. It is unclear if a criminal investigation has also been launched in light of the allegations.
Louisville Metro police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said she was unaware of any investigation by the department, saying it was an issue to be handled by campus police.
University police operator Peter Anderson said he was unaware of the allegations and that no staffers were available to comment. Cardinals basketball spokesman Kenny Klein initially notified the compliance office about the allegations, but said he didn't know if police are involved.
Louisville retained Chuck Smart of the Compliance Group, which assists schools in NCAA cases, to review the claims.
"Chuck is the quarterback of this entire project," Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich said. "Chuck knows he's the most well-respected person, probably, within the NCAA and the NCAA has been involved every step of the way. We're an open book."
Jurich said he didn't know if video surveillance had been reviewed to back up that allegation and added, "that would be a Chuck Smrt or an NCAA question."
McGee played for Louisville from 2005-09 and started 57 games during his career. He played professionally in Europe before becoming a program assistant in 2010 and was promoted to director of basketball operations in 2012. McGee could not be reached for comment.
Both Jurich and Pitino said they think that money was the woman's motivation for writing the book. Powell was paid for the book, but said in an interview with the Journal that she felt it was important to tell the story.
The publishing company said it paid investigators and Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Dick Cady to vet Powell's story, and based much of it on journal entries, photos and text messages.
The allegations came on the eve of Louisville's first Red-White scrimmage. The Cardinals reached the NCAA East Region final last season.