Louisville receives Notice of Allegations for escort scandal
After an NCAA investigation, Louisville has been charged with four Level I violations stemming from the escort scandal that has enveloped the basketball program for the last year, according to the Notice of Allegations that the school released on Thursday morning.
Level I violations are the most serious violations the NCAA can hand out.
The NCAA found that McGee “arranged for and/or provided impermissible inducements, offers and/or extra benefits in the form of adult entertainment, sex acts and/or cash”. The NCAA determined that McGee spent at least $5,400 on for as many as 17 recruits and basketball players as well as two AAU coaches and the friend of a prospect. They confirmed 11 sex acts, two declined sex acts and 14 parties with strippers.
The accusations were first levied when Katina Powell, a former escort that was involved with McGee, published a book that contained the allegations. She said that she and the other escorts were paid more than $10,000 and received tickets to Louisville home games.
Head coach Rick Pitino was charged with a Level I violation for failing to monitor McGee. There were no allegations that he knew about the actions of McGee. According to the notice, Pitino “failed to frequently spot-check the program to uncover potential or existing compliance problems, including actively looking for and evaluating red flags, asking pointed questions and regularly soliciting honest feedback to determine if monitoring systems were functioning properly regarding McGee’s activities and interactions with then men’s basketball prospective and current student-athletes visiting and attending the institution.”
Louisville will contest the charge against Pitino.
McGee was charged with two Level I violations, and former assistant Brandon Williams was also on the receiving end of a Level I violation. Both refused to cooperate with the investigation. The school itself was not charged with a lack of institutional control or a failure to monitor, which are the two most serious charges that the NCAA can hand out.
Pitino’s plausible deniability may not save him from being on the receiving end of a hefty punishment from the NCAA. Under new NCAA rules, head coaches are responsible for what happens in their program under their watch regardless of whether or not they are aware. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and then-SMU head coach Larry Brown both received nine-game suspensions for violations that were committed within their program.
The case will not go in front of the Committee on Infractions until the spring of 2017 - the school has 90 days to respond to the allegations - which means that Louisville will not know if they are going to receive any additional punishment until just prior to the start of the 2017-18 season.
Last February, Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban on a team that was on track to earn a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. The program also self-imposed a handful of recruiting restrictions.