Pitino: School’s self-imposed penalties should satisfy NCAA
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the school’s self-imposed sanctions are enough to satisfy the NCAA as the governing body continues investigating an escort’s allegations that a former Cardinals staffer hired her and other dancers to entertain recruits and players.
The school in February announced a postseason ban from the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments after its investigation into Katina Powell’s allegations determined that violations did occur. Louisville imposed additional sanctions in April, reducing scholarships and recruiting visits and contacts by staff in 2016-17 and ’17-’18. Several investigations into the program continue, but Pitino says measures suggested by investigator Chuck Smrt should be enough.
“Chuck tells you, ‘OK, this is what I find you guilty of and this is what we must do,’ so he was the guy that told us what to do, it wasn’t the school,” Pitino said during a radio interview Tuesday on Louisville’s 840 WHAS.
“We have to rely on his (Smrt’s) expertise, so in his expertise and his feelings, we’ve done everything that we needed to do.”
Pitino expressed the same feelings about the school’s actions in a podcast with College Hoops Today earlier this week.
Powell alleged last October in the book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” that former Cardinals men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory. Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities described in Powell’s book but has also seemed inclined to move on from the scandal, no matter what the NCAA investigation determines whenever it serves the school with a notice of allegations.
“It’s just a matter of what’s true, what’s not true,” Pitino said. “Certainly, we’re guilty of certain things and that’s why we took the penalty. We would not have taken the penalty if we didn’t find ourselves guilty of those violations.”
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said last month that he didn’t know when the NCAA’s investigation might end. But the AD said the school is prepared to acknowledge mistakes and cited its previous measures as steps toward correcting them and moving forward.
Pitino has expressed the same philosophy but didn’t sound ready to let McGee off the hook. The coach said he hasn’t spoken with his former player and staffer and isn’t in a forgiving mood just yet.
“Do I still love him? Yes, I do,” Pitino said. “Do I forgive him? No, I don’t, because in order to forgive someone, that person has to ask for forgiveness. It’s no different from if I do something wrong that I ask for forgiveness and God willing, the people you hurt forgive you.
“When it comes the day that Andre wants to be forgiven for his deeds, he’ll ask for forgiveness and we’ll certainly do that.”