University of Louisville Foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

Book claims Louisville used escorts in recruiting (2:09)

ESPN college basketball Insider Jeff Goodman reports the University of Louisville and the NCAA are looking into allegations in a soon-to-be-published book that a former school employee paid an escort service to provide sex for Cardinals recruits. (2:09)

An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort's allegations that former men's basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation invests donations to the university.

Louisville president James Ramsey also said Thursday he "fully" supports athletic director Tom Jurich "as we work to identify the facts in this situation." Ramsey reiterated that the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department's investigation into Katina Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.''

Ramsey's statement went on to praise Jurich for leading an "exemplary" program during his 18 years as AD, but did not mention Cardinals coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino talked about the omission in a radio interview later Thursday, saying, "I'm sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me, but that's something I cannot control."

Pitino bristled at a question if the widespread attention now on his program has made him reconsider resigning.

"I don't know what resigning would accomplish," Pitino, 63, told 840 WHAS. "I think that's the cowardly way out if I resign now without coaching two fifth-year seniors and people who came to play for me. What does it do for the program if the coach runs away?

"If I resign, would people feel better about it?"

That could be one of many unanswered questions as a result of allegations in the book.

Powell's book was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players' Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ's publishing arm could not be reached either.

Pitino has said McGee denied Powell's allegations. He repeated in his second local radio interview in three days that he didn't know those activities took place in the dorm, which is named after his late brother-in-law. Pitino said he was still trying to understand the motive behind McGee's alleged actions and said that Louisville didn't need to hire dancers to attract top-flight recruits to his elite program.

"If you're the University of Louisville, you don't need any help with those artificial means to get players," Pitino said. "This is one of the premier programs in the nation."

As the school's athletic department and foundation and campus and Louisville police departments gather facts about the scandal, Ramsey's statement stressed the need for the school to continue its main mission.

"It is important that the university -- all of us -- stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education," Ramsey said. "The investigation of the allegations may take time, and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward."