How Should UofL React to The Hooker Scandal? Like Tommy Lee Jones

Have you seen The Fugitive? A part of me feels like asking that question is a little ridiculous. Like that time on The Late Show when Dave said, “Hey, Paul. You ever had cookies? Man, they’re good.” But another part of me realizes that it’s a 20 year old movie and not everyone has seen everything. Well, anyway, the last ten seconds of that clip above are maybe the best 10 seconds in the history of movies. Here’s why.

You’ve got the two main characters, face to face, one holding a gun on the other. They each have one line. And in the space of those two lines, you know everything you need to know for the entire movie. You know who both of the characters are and what is driving them.

Richard Kimball: I didn’t kill my wife.

Agent Gerard: I don’t care.

That’s it. Kimball only wants the world to know he didn’t kill his wife. And the guy chasing him doesn’t care. He’s going to chase him anyway. It’s brilliant and it’s succinct. And I realized it sums up my position on the University of Louisville hookers and recruits scandal.

But, as I’m not as brilliant and succinct as The Fugitive, I’ll use around 1400 words instead of eight.

There’s a book that just came out called Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen. This is a book I have not read, and it’s a book I won’t read. It’s written by a former (?) prostitute and former (?) madam who, based solely on the title, either has an incredibly elevated opinion of her own position in the world of college basketball recruit escort services, or has proved herself so exceptional in all aspects of her profession that her peers recognize that she is, in fact, their queen.

In the book she alleges that over the course of four years she was paid tens of thousands of dollars to provide strippers and hookers to UofL basketball recruits and players at the behest of a former UofL player and, at the time, Director of Basketball Operations, Andre McGee. The strippers were hired for over 20 parties at a dorm, named after Rick Piton’s brother-in-law who died during the 911 attacks, that housed mostly, but not exclusively, athletes.

Let’s start with the author.

Her name is Katina Powell and she was an escort, or a prostitute, and a madam, or a pimp, and she found a publisher to publish her book. The first reaction by many who want this not to be true is to call into question the veracity of her claims because she is/was a prostitute. Which makes about as much sense as thinking I can’t make cookies because I have one eye that’s two different colors.

Or, as Jim Garrison put it in JFK, “That bother you, Bill? I always wonder why it is in court if a woman’s a prostitute she has to have bad eyesight.”

So, seeing as how I make perfectly good cookies, there’s no reason to assume she’s making all of this up.

Also, and not for nuthin’, former recruits and players have since confirmed much of what she’s saying in the book.

Conclusion: This happened. We can quibble about specific details, but these dorm parties happened and some recruits had illegal, paid-for, sex with prostitutes.

This happened.

Next issue: Does this happen everywhere? Is this really a big deal.

I’ll take the last part first.

Yes, this is a big deal.

To the issue of whether this happens everywhere, well, that’s a bit of a grey area.

How grey?

Charcoal.

Which is to say that when recruits come to campus they are put in the hands of other players and the entire point of the weekend is to entice the recruit to come to whichever school this is. Jalen Rose has spoken about this a few times in the last week on The Jalen and Jacoby Show. You should listen, just skip past the parts where he sings.

The upshot is this, Jalen was of the opinion during his recruiting visits that if he didn’t get laid, he wasn’t coming to that school. Not that this was ever paid for by anyone. He’s not saying that. He had more than enough game to get what he was looking for without that kind of help. But, he also never went to a party on his recruiting visits where everyone there didn’t know who he was and that the point of the party was to make his trip as enjoyable as possible.

So, he’s not saying, and neither am I, that all schools pay for women to have sex with recruits. But I think what he is saying, and what I’m saying, is that this is big business, these are 18 year old kids, they like sex, and everyone around them knows that. So, if sex happens on these visits it certainly doesn’t hurt the school’s chances of landing the recruit. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to assume that in some cases A + B = C.

And at UofL, that seems to be what happened.

And that is bad.

Ok. Then. Who paid for this?

That’s a pretty big question that I doubt we’ll get a firm answer on. She says, I believe, that it was McGee. I’d wager it was in cash and there are no receipts. I’d also wager you won’t be able to compare her bank deposits to withdrawals from petty cash and find matching $10,000 transactions days apart.

“Follow the money” is always good advice, but here I doubt it leads anywhere.

To continue the Watergate line of thinking (also, go watch All The President’s Men if you haven’t seen that. It’s fantastic) the big questions then become:

What did Head Coach Rick Pitino know? And when did he know it?

And here’s where we come back to The Fugitive. Remember The Fugitive? This is a column about The Fugitive.

Pitino has said repeatedly that he didn’t know this was happening.

To which I reply, “I don’t care.”

Which isn’t to say I think he’s lying. I don’t think he sanctioned this. It seems unlikely that he told McGee to go buy hookers for recruits. But I don’t care whether he did or he didn’t.

He’s responsible for his program, so he’s responsible for this. He hires his staff. He oversees them. The things they do reflect back on him. That’s how this works.

We all think Calipari is a cheater and a giant scumbag even though he was never charged with anything while his programs all cheated and were punished.

Dwayne Casey mailed that envelope of cash to Chris Mills, but Eddie Sutton was responsible, whether he told him to or Casey did it on his own.

Or, closer to home.

Tom Crean didn’t tell his players to go out and get drunk and run each over with their cars. He didn’t tell his players to try to use fake IDs and get mouthy with campus police. He didn’t tell them to smoke pot and get busted. He was in bed. He didn’t even know those things were happening as they happened, much less in advance.

But there are lot of Hoosier fans who have called for his head because of it.

Now, imagine how you and the millions (and millions) of Hoosier fans would react if it wasn’t drinking and pot over an 18 month period, but dorm parties with hookers over a four year period.

You think Crean survives that?

We have discussed previously how uncomfortable I am with the idea of calling for someone to be fired. And this takes that whole thing one step further. Because this isn’t my school.

It’s not my job to tell UofL fans how they should react to their coach and their program. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. It’s like seeing that kid in the grocery store acting like a shit. It’s not my job to correct his behavior, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about it.

Whether Pitino survives this is completely up to UofL, the university, the fans, the boosters, and what they are willing to tolerate in their program. And that will say a lot about the program and the school. He’d probably survive this at UK and there would be a lot of rationalizing that decision by Big Blue Nation.

And we’d all think he should be fired for it and we wouldn’t shut up about it.

UofL needs to decide if they want to be UK. And act accordingly.

Good luck to UofL in their search for the soul of their program. Because in the end, whether or not Pitino knew or not doesn’t matter.

I don’t care.

And I’m not sure anyone else should either.

Jeff Taylor