“First, above all, I’m sorry we all have to endure the pain of these allegations. I so appreciate your support and friendships,” he said. “I will not resign and let you down. Someday I will walk away in celebration of many memorable years but that time is not now.”
Pitino continued, noting he would not “fight these accusations” but instead “turn the other cheek.”
“Let’s let the investigators do their job and we will play basketball,” he said, before continuing the letter by talking about how each player on the current Cardinals’ roster has improved over the last year.
Pitino later returned to the subject, referring to the Pope Francis’s September trip to the United States:
“The Pope on his recent visit was asked many controversial questions. He would often answer, ‘We will let God judge.’ There can be no better advice regardless of what religion you are than his words. Let’s not try to justify, but let the Lord judge!!”
Before any otherworldly being makes a judgment about the growing scandal, though, the NCAA and Louisville’s administration will decide the basketball program’s fate.
The allegations that former assistant coach Andre McGee paid strippers and escorts to attend team parties first emerged earlier this month in the book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.” Penned by Katina Powell, one of the alleged escorts, the book claims McGee paid her a total of $10,000 over the course of four years to attend 22 on-campus parties. Powell says her three daughters were also escorts at the parties and that they, too, were asked to strip and perform sex acts with players and teenage recruits.
The controversy gained traction last week when an ESPN investigation reported the confessions of five former Cardinals players and recruits.
“I knew they weren’t college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club,” one of the recruits, who was allowed to remain anonymous, told ESPN.
Pitino has denied he knew about any of the allegations before Powell’s book was published, but Powell told ESPN a different story.
“I said, ‘Does Pitino know about this?’ ” she said, referring to a conversation she had with McGee. “And he said, ‘He’s Rick. He knows about everything.’ … Four years, a boatload of recruits, a boatload of dancers, loud music, alcohol, security, cameras, basketball players who came in [to the dorm] at will … ”
Pitino, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, last led Louisville to the NCAA title in 2013.