Since the accusations all came spilling out, the mind of every Louisville faithful has been working in overdrive to untangle the web that Katina Powell (and the media) has so intricately woven. Reactions have varied from one end of the spectrum to the other – from those who refuse to believe anything like this could ever happen here to those who believe that the only way we move past the situation is to “clean house.” I took a stance against Sports Illustrated’s portrayal of the University of Louisville as a dangerous culture for women, but when it comes to the scandal itself, I’ve struggled to decide how I feel. I am going to go out on a limb and say this… I’m not naive enough to believe that it could never happen here. I’ve accepted that there is potential that these claims and accusations have some truth to them. The one thing that I can’t get on board with is the premature crucifixion of Rick Pitino.
Sally Jenkins and the Washington Post (a publication that has had some pretty interesting things to say about me as well, for the record) had some scathing things to say, which set me on my heels a bit to be honest. Jenkins isn’t alone with her scorn for Pitino, her voice is not alone in calling for his resignation. What y’all are failing to take into consideration is who you’re talking about. We’re not talking about a first-time NCAA coach who was working to build a team that could give some status to his name – we’re talking about 30-plus year Hall of Fame coach who has already seen the inside of a scandal that could have cost him everything. For those of you calling for his head on a platter? I’ve got three words. Pump the brakes.
Yes, we all know about the rule that the NCAA implemented within the last few years that is aimed at holding coaches accountable for things that happen within their programs. This rule basically sets coaches up in a position the polar opposite of that which they would face in a normal investigation – instead of being innocent until proven guilty, they will be presumed guilty until proven innocent. This rule in essence takes the words, “I didn’t know” out of the vernacular of coaches nationwide. I can’t help but feel like those who are throwing this rule around about Pitino have forgotten that Roy Williams has yet to step down in the wake of allegations of academic fraud at the University of North Carolina (four of which are Level I allegations). Better yet – that just this year, he signed a contract extension through 2020. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a sex scandal of these proportions and 9 years (actually 18, but the NCAA cut the investigation down) of “paper classes” are on a level playing field, but if you want me to believe Rick Pitino was aware of what was going on here and Roy Williams wasn’t, you’ve lost all of your marbles. Every last one.
For those of who you continue to be blissfully unaware of the significance of Billy Minardi Hall being named Billy Minardi Hall, let us keep in mind that it is in memory of his brother-in-law and best friend who was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11. Can you even begin to imagine what would be running through your mind if you were in his shoes when he heard of this happening in the dorm named for Minardi?
“When I heard all of this, and that it took place in the building I named after him … I cried myself to sleep. It still bothers me.”
Call me naive, say I’ve got on red-lensed glasses, but I’ve been here long enough to see Coach P at work against trouble makers. I’ve seen Pitino do everything in his power to help Chane Behanan before ultimately having to dismiss him from the team – and Behanan still speaks so highly of his coach. You want me to believe that a man who takes that much care to ensure that his team and players are on the right track would know about these things happening and idly stand by? Sorry, but no.
The one thing I’ve always said: Let your family and close friends be the judge of who you are as a person. Don’t worry about being judged by others who don’t know you, because your family and friends know what you are all about, good and bad. — Rick Pitino
You are entitled to your opinions, just as I am entitled to mine. If it is proven that Rick Pitino knew these things were happening, I’ll be the first to admit that I will be blindsided and, quite honestly, devastated. As a political scientist with a concentration in legal studies, I’ll stick to the innocent until proven guilty mantra. Only time will tell what the truth is as all the facts begin to unfold. Cards fans, all I can say is this… Sensationalism sells. There is a reason that next to none of you were calling for his resignation until you saw Powell’s face on your televisions, or until you heard the “confirmed” stories that these allegations are true. Don’t let what the media is feeding you cloud what each and every one of us truly knows… That we know nothing. If he is guilty? By all means, I won’t stand in your way of your torch bearing and tar and feathering. But what happens if we find out he actually is innocent? Are you going to give a mumbled apology and go back to proudly sporting the Cardinal emblem on your chest? I’ve seen people go as far as to say they have cancelled their season tickets, and that just hurts my heart. You’re not hurting Pitino or the program, you’re only hurting the players on the court looking for your support. For me, I’ll be joining Pitino when he said “We believe in our past and our future. We’re going to stay positive in what we’ve built,” and waiting to find out the truth.
Mostly because I just can’t bring myself to believe a self-proclaimed “escort queen” who is looking to make a buck, in what is currently just a giant a game of he said-she said.