By: Monte Perez
I must preface this article by quoting Mark McGwire when he was talking to the Senate on HGH and Steroid use, “I am not here to talk about the past.” Whatever you may think of Rick Pitino and his past has nothing to do with what is all over ESPN, Twitter and Facebook. There is a book coming out called “Breaking Cardinal Rules: The Escort Queen and Basketball”. The book alleges that former director of basketball operations Andre McGee negotiated transactions with a madam named Katina Powell who would send over strippers and escorts for players and recruits. For a price, the players would get lap dances and have sex with these women. Powell said this went on over a 4 year period and was paid in excess of over $10,000. She has provided pictures and text messages. At least five former players and recruits have collaborated with her story.
I am a former college basketball and AAU high school coach. My last 4 years coaching I had a combined record of 77-15. (2 years college… 21-8, 26-4, Two years… AAU 30-3). During the Summer I would travel around the country and work at basketball camps for some of the best programs in the country. After coaching, I worked for The Hoop Group. This is one of the most prestigious high school development clinics in the country. I was also the commissioner at the Pocono Invitational Summer Camp. Players from Dr. J to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony all attended these camps during high school. (Me in the Blue Shirt and Tie)
Because I worked my butt off at these camps I was well respected and I became friends with a ton of coaches across the country. One of my closest friends, at the time, became a graduate assistant for Pitino. I remember calling him one night and he told me he was studying a “Cheat Sheet” on recruits. My friend compared Pitino to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. When you coach college basketball the Head Coach assigns you to players, recruits and to scout certain teams. For example, if a coach is responsible for recruiting 10 players, and the scouting reporting on Duke and Syracuse, he would spend all his free time focusing on that. He wouldn’t know everything about Connecticut or Georgetown or other players they were recruiting because that is another coach’s responsibility. Not Pitino, he wanted every staff member to know everything about every team, player and recruit. So to think Pitino did not know about this escort service would be an absolute shock to me because he has his hands in everything that goes on with the basketball program. He is the ultimate control freak. Now, let’s say, for argument sake, Pitino did not know. He should be fired on the spot because ignorance is not a valid excuse. The NCAA would punish Pitino and Louisville the way they punished Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Larry Brown of SMU. They would site “Lack of Coach Control.”
The common theme defending Pitino on social media is…”This goes on in every program.” No it doesn’t. I know firsthand from coaching it doesn’t. I can site numerous programs that don’t do this. I can also site numerous programs that do. Are we supposed to look the other way because everyone is doing the wrong thing? It’s never a bad time to correct a wrong action. There is no way out for Pitino here.. If he knew it went on, it is wrong, if he didn’t know.. it is wrong. You are the CEO of a college program, everything stops with you.
One of the reasons I stopped coaching was because college athletics became so corrupt on every level. When I coached AAU I didn’t take on an assistant coach. AAU might be worse than college athletics. Kids are treated like cattle. I wanted to win or lose my way. I didn’t want to hire an assistant and have to owe a former NBA Player or Sponsor of our team any favors. I am no moralist, I understand thatcollege basketball is big business. But let us just say it out loud. “A Basketball Program, basically hired hookers for recruits and players” It’s wrong, there is no ambiguity here. Let’s not look at what Pitino has done on the court, as a college coach you are responsible for what happens. He failed here, in epic proportion.
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