It’s safe to say, that we didn’t create TheCrunchZone.com to cover stories like this.
I heard the news while en route to Raleigh, NC for this weekend’s Louisville vs. North Carolina State football game. I’d just completed a radio hit with 93.9 on Ramsey & Rutherford with Spencer Kietzman and the Courier-Journal’s Jeff Greer (who were filling in for R&R). Finding a place to stop and get an internet signal to write along the West Virginia Turnpike is problematic. Also I received several phone calls from confidential sources providing their insight on the situation within the first 90 minutes of the story breaking.
What we know is that this is a huge big eye on the program, during Saturday’s football game the North Carolina State student section taunted the Cards with “Escort! Escort!”. It’s safe to say that wherever the Cardinals go, they’ll have to hear about this for a while. What happens with the NCAA? What happens to the program? We don’t know. But here are a few of our thoughts.
Andre McGee played 4 years at UofL and was always one thing: Consistent. Even as a graduate assistant and later as Director of Operations Andre always seemed like a likable, steady, professional and happy person. The type of person you want in your program.
As a member of the media, you never TRULY know people. But Andre McGee never struck me (or I think anyone else) as someone who would do the things that are alleged in the book in question.
In fact, Andre McGee’s role as Director of Operations was not a recruiting role at all. Instead, McGee’s role was to manage schedules, behavior and oversee the players at Billy Minardi Hall. Providing strippers and escorts would be the opposite of his job description. Also, at no point did any recruit ever mention Andre McGee during the recruitment or after committing.
What’s in the Book that Could Affect UofL?
Not being a document expert, it appears that the “journal” appearing in the book is not a running account. It is clearly written in one sitting with the same pen over a 4 year period. We have ‘heard’ that there are actual journals that stack nearly 2 feet high sitting in author Dick Cady’s closet….but the book is just slightly over 100 pages. Prostitutes keeping records is probably not a prescribed practice and I think we can understand that the list provided as a “Journal” is really just a list created all at once. Presenting the document as a ‘journal’ really isn’t accurate.
The photos included in the book are not incriminating. But is anyone surprised that Chane Behanan was in at least one of the photos? Powell gushed about Chane. It is interesting to read that Katina Powell goes out of her way to protect Peyton Siva & Mangok Mathiang, but burns others including Montrezl Harrell. Harrell tells that Houston Chronicle “I don’t know anything about any of that. Apparently, my name is in there. I don’t have anything to do with that. U of L is doing their job, holding an investigation, looking at it. That’s where I’m leaving it. Simple as that.”
McGee is alleged to have traded the dance & sex sessions for money & tickets. In total we’re talking about 22 sessions of dancing, sex with players, recruits, and sometimes even parents for an estimated total of about $10,000. That seems like a great deal of work for a small amount of money. Powell also says in the book that “He (McGee) always said that his job depended on this kid signing” which is in direct conflict with Andre McGee’s job description.
A Wal-Mart Receipt from Poplar Level Road shows that someone transferred money from California….who sent that $, for what purpose is unclear. But it has been alleged in the book was that the money was for the services of one of Katina Powell and another woman (we learn that it is her daughter Shay) to meet and have sex with Antonio Blakeney on 7-23-2014. In the book a Facebook message screen shot shows a limited interaction with Antonio Blakeney and Katina Powell’s daughter Shay, who Powell alleges to have sent to Blakeney’s hotel room to have sex as ordered by Andre McGee. Powell goes into detail on the interaction inside the hotel room in the book.
In the book Powell claims that she was offended when McGee requested “Clean White Girls” (that would be willing to have sex). Following that request Powell writes: “I promise I’m waiting on the right time to take these bastards down. I have made thousands off these _____ and plan on making more. I just have to be smart and patient as well.” Later Powell adds that “All I can do is document everything in my book and pray that if ___ hits the fan that my book will save me and prove that illegal ___ is truly on them.”
What Isn’t in the Book
UofL immediately alerted the NCAA and hired independent investigator Chuck Smrt to conduct its own investigation.
It’s clear that Katina Powell planned to continue to monetize her association with Andre McGee. If the text messages are authentic, she claims that she lost over 700+ additional messages (due to a phone virus?) that would further incriminate Andre McGee. None of the correspondence is a “Smoking Gun”. The photos used in the book are all circumstantial and at least claim that at some point Katina and the people who worked for her stood or sat next to Louisville basketball players at some point or another. But some of the photos, like Andre McGee’s car in a Downtown Louisville hotel really drive home the point that Powell was planning to leverage McGee at a later date. Because none of it means anything without context.
In regards to Antonio Blakeney, the once Louisville commit was in Louisville at the time of the Wal-Mart receipt. The now LSU player was in town playing in the AAU National Championships at the Kentucky Exposition Center. However, Andre McGee was not employed by Louisville during this time and had moved to the University of Missouri-Kansas City with former Cardinal Assistant Kareem Richardson. Some have claimed offline that Andre McGee may not have been in California or Louisville (or even in the country) when the alleged wire from Wal-Mart was sent (we’ve yet to confirm this detail). UMKC has placed Andre McGee on leave during the investigation.
Rick Pitino told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil “Not myself, not one player, not one trainer, not one assistant, not one person knew anything about any of this If anyone did, it would have been stopped on a dime. Not one person knew anything about it.”
There is not a smoking gun in the book. If nothing else it leaves more questions. The Courier-Journal’s Jeff Greer visited Dick Cady yesterday and requested to see Cady’s supporting documentation. That request was denied as was the request by Chuck Smrt and UofL’s John Cairnes (Director of Compliance) with Cady directing the investigators to the book.
On Friday Tom Jurich was asked if anyone had attempted to extort the university or its employees prior to the book’s release. “I will not answer that question”.
I think by not answering, it opens the door that Katina Powell has quite possibly attempted to extort McGee, UofL employees, or UofL itself.
Louisville found out about this in late August, the book was published a little more than a month later. If Powell is motivated by money….which she has stated herself, then this is not out of the realm of possibility.
Louisville’s administration first hint of the allegations came when on August 28th Indiana’s Scott Dolson (Deputy Director of Athletics at IU) received an e-mail from IU’s biggest donor Michael “Mickey” Maurer who was asking for help identifying a person in a picture. Dolson referred Maurer to UofL’s Kevin Miller (Executive Senior Associate AD). Miller forwarded the e-mail the following day (29th) to Kenny Klein.
On August 31, Mickey Maurer sent another e-mail to Dolson and included Kenny Klein stating that he needed ID for a book that would not be favorable to Louisville’s image. Indiana’s Senior Assistant AD J.D. Campbell then released the e-mails to the media:
On Aug 28, 2015, at 3:40 PM, Dolson, Scott M wrote:
Kevin – Hope all is well!! Below is an email from one of our all-time great IU benefactors Mickey Maurer….he needs some assistance in identifying one of your players in a photo and I told Mickey that I would connect him to you in hopes either you or someone in your department can help. Thanks in advance for your help Kevin and keep in touch!!! Go IU!!
From: Mickey Maurer
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 3:28 PM
To: Dolson, Scott M
Do you know your counterpart at Uof L? I have a photo and I need a player ID.
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2015 8:42 AM
To: Dolson, Scott M
Cc: Mickey Maurer; Klein,Kenneth Edward
Subject: Re: Help….
I have copied Kenny Klein on this email. He oversees Sports Information and will be able to identify the player. Please send to kenny and he will help. Kenny’s cell number is .
From: Mickey Maurer
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 3:38 PM
To: Dolson, Scott M; kevin.miller kenneth.klein
Cc: Pat Keiffner
Subject: FW: Help….
Thanks for volunteering to help on this. Turns out this is for a book that will not be favorable to the Uof L image. I will understand if you don’t choose to assist but would be grateful if you do. Thanks.
From: Dolson, Scott M
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 3:42 PM
Subject: FW: Help….
SORRY re the email below…not sure what this is but it blindsided me….please tell Kenny to handle however he feels appropriate. Sorry again and thx for your help!! Scott
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 7:03 PM
To: Mickey Maurer; Dolson, Scott M; kevin.miller
Cc: Pat Keiffner
Subject: RE: Help….
That’s disturbing to hear about something unfavorable, but I suppose we could take a look at the photo, particularly if it is something that would be published in a book.
From: Dolson, Scott M
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 8:26 PM
Subject: RE: Help….
SORRY Kenny….Micky is one of the University’s largest donors as he actually named the law school (Maurer School of Law)…..did not know he was headed in that direction. Look forward to meeting you sometime down the road. Scott
Tom Jurich during his press conference Friday was asked whether he felt that Indiana turned Louisville in “I have no comment”.
It’s probably too early for Tom Jurich to comment on such a matter. But with UofL’s first learning of this ordeal through the IU SID office likely didn’t help that initial feeling. Also coming from IU’s largest booster (Maurer) whose name is on the Law School after $35 Million in donations, it all seems a little strange that he would be personally asking for vetted information on this book rather than Dick Cady whose job was to do the work to write the book. In the end, Maurer’s involvement here is strange. It’s like Jim Patterson, Mark Lynn, or Steve Trager reaching out to Kenny Klein asking about information about a rival school for the purposes of defaming it. Those guys just wouldn’t waste their time.
So why would Indiana be involved? Kenny Johnson for one. JaQuan Lyle (who is mentioned in the book) is another. Louisville got a commitment from Lyle out of Evansville, IN beating out the Hoosiers. Lyle ended up flaming out, committing to Oregon and then eventually Ohio State. The bigger win was getting Kenny Johnson, current lead recruiter and assistant coach for the Cards. Many people are connecting the dots that Tom Crean or the Indiana Administration is behind the book and especially the timing of the release.
The book was released during Louisville’s most important recruiting weekend of the upcoming signing period. The timing of the news and the release of the book signals an effort to subvert the efforts of the Cards to attract their top targets for the 2016 class.
Almost 20 minutes following Rick Pitino & Tom Jurich’s press conference Tom Crean released a message: “Any assertion our basketball program had anything to do with the situation at Louisville is flat-out wrong.” A little while later J.D. Campbell released the e-mails noted above, and Athletic Director Fred Glass claimed that Indiana was an ‘unwitting participant’ in the entire ordeal.
All of this timing is impeccable on a Friday evening that began Louisville’s most important recruiting weekend, started by Indiana’s lead booster, with information well sourced from inside Indiana’s SID department. Maybe IU is an extremely efficient department (I’d like to think that). But fans are connecting dots and whether or not that is fair is still yet to be determined.
Incriminating Herself. Her Motivation
We already know that Katina Powell is motivated by money. We also know that Powell’s claims have gained the interest of Louisville Metro Police Crimes Against Children Unit and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Our very own Keith Poynter breaks down some of the legal ramifications and protections that Powell now faces as a result of her book.
Why would Katina admit to Prostitution, Promoting Prostitution, propelling her own daughters into Prostitution, using Drugs, Distributing Drugs, Prostitution with Minors, Drugs and Alcohol with Minors, Tax Evasion and general Organized Crime?
Well…… Money. We know that Powell has agreed to 10% of the revenue from the book’s release. That’s a terrible deal for what Powell stands to lose (her freedom) and the overall limited reach that this book will stand to gain. Does Powell have a greater, undocumented incentive than the book’s 10%?
Also it is quite disturbing that Katina Powell did guide her daughters into the escort business and justified it by saying, “They enjoy themselves”. Regular people won’t be able to comprehend much of Powell’s motivation or reasoning for a lot of things. But that’s partly due to Powell’s background:
Katina’s Family is rife with criminal activity. Powell’s is surprisingly not. Katina Powell dropped out of Holy Cross High School during her junior year. Her brother Earnest Powell, Jr. is currently in jail after beating a woman with a lead pipe at a Portland bar in late August. Another one of Katina’s brothers Deshawn has an arrest record that includes assault charges including in 2011 when he shot someone ‘multiple times’. Katina’s nephew Earnest “Pete” Powell was murdered in Beecher Terrace in 2011.
We also know that Katina Powell regularly uses marijuana and in addition to steering 3 of her daughters into prostitution also helped encourage and supply that habit.
Louisville Basketball Players Need to Pay For Sex?
Can we be honest? I understand that this defense is crude. But I think this section speaks for itself.
Tons of circumstantial evidence that does not prove most of the allegations. There was at least some association between Katina Powell and Andre McGee. And that’s disturbing. Part of the problem thus far is the information provided in the book is all largely circumstantial. There is no smoking gun and when given the opportunity to turn over journals and other information to investigators Chuck Smrt, UofL, the NCAA, and other reporters Katina Powell, IBJ, and Dick Cady have not been forthcoming.
So what is there to hide?
Cady is for his part a Pulitzer Prize winning author who was arrested for making bribes to officers while doing research for his piece on police corruption in the 1970s. Cady hasn’t written a book since 2012 and claims that ‘if he had more time’ he could substantially prove all of Powell’s claims……. So what’s the rush?
It’s unclear if the publisher IBJ (Indianapolis Business Journal) had a hard deadline for this project, didn’t want Cady to complete his investigations, if Cady didn’t want to complete his investigations, if there was a reason to RUSH the project for a specific date (like the start of basketball practice OR a huge recruiting weekend at UofL for example).
Given the scope of the project the lack of completion, the lack of promotion prior to release, and the author’s claim that more could be proven, it seems that the project’s timeline was managed by someone other than Powell or Cady.
What if it is all True?
If Louisville or an assistant coach, or Graduate Assistant provided prostitutes for players, parents, and recruits then the Cards should pay. The alumni, the donors, the administration would never advocate this type of thing to go on within the basketball program or at any department within the university. As an alumnus of UofL, anyone participating in this or having knowledge of these activities (if true) deserves the full brunt of punishment from the school, the NCAA, and possibly law enforcement.
The program is bigger than one person or group of people to be drug down like this. I hope with all of my heart that Andre McGee is exonerated of all wrong doing. But we need answers and if people broke the rules then they and UofL has to pay. That’s what being a Louisville Man is all about, when you mess up you pay up.
What if it isn’t True? Will UofL Fight For Itself?
If these allegations have no merit. If they’ve been embellished or we are dealing with a complete fabrication then I hope that there is a large measure of justice handing down on Katina Powell, Dick Cady, and IBJ.
If these allegations are entirely false then it will be difficult to convict Powell of any criminal activity. Also given her lack of education and financial state, it’s unlikely that any damages could be recovered directly from Powell as that income is likely exhausted as it arrives. The damages could come from Cady, IBJ, and potentially Mickey Maurer…and if proven by association Indiana (if the Hoosiers are truly involved).
We’ll find out the truth soon enough and I hope that no one rushes to judgment on either side until the independent investigation has been concluded.
One thing I wanted to note here is the Over-Riding Issue that seems to be prevalent with UofL.
Choosing who UofL associates with.
We’ve seen how ONE ACT or one person can become a HUGE story and problem for Louisville’s athletic department and school. When dealing with substandard and unstable people ANYTHING can and will happen.
The school has been through the ringer with scandals. From Karen Sypher, Chris Jones’ accusers, and now Katina Powell. And yes in the cases here that are not on-going Louisville was VICTIMIZED by these people. But there was at least some level of interaction that opened up UofL to become the victim. That’s not victim shaming at all….. it is about choices and who we interact with.
I do think that everyone should review who is in their lives on a regular basis with an understanding that opening yourself to just one interaction can result in bad news. This applies to UofL, our readers, me. There are several public examples here by UofL that display a subculture that exists and I think not only should admins at the University explore ways to prevent these type of interactions, but also the community at large should review this as well. It’s a problem and if we don’t talk more openly about it, we leave ourselves open to more erratic happenings in the news and in our lives.