NCAA still conducting U of L interviews

Jeff Greer

The NCAA has not finished interviewing people in its investigation of the University of Louisville's men's basketball program, multiple sources told The Courier-Journal this week.

Some U of L boosters were interviewed by the NCAA's enforcement staff last week, though the primary purpose of at least one of the conversations was for background information about the program, the sources said.

This comes at least three months after Louisville coach Rick Pitino was believed to be interviewed by the NCAA, though he has repeatedly said since late April that he cannot confirm if he has spoken to investigators.

It is NCAA policy for the organization and its member institutions to not comment on open investigations.

The NCAA over the past 10 months has reportedly met with several figures mentioned in Katina Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," since its release in early October. The self-proclaimed escort alleged in her book that former U of L staffer Andre McGee paid her and other escorts thousands of dollars and gave them game tickets from 2010-14 in exchange for them having sex with and dancing for recruits and players.

The book also prompted U of L to hire Chuck Smrt, a college athletics compliance consultant, to conduct an inquiry on behalf of the university. Smrt and his team from The Compliance Group began working for U of L on Sept. 1 and were still submitting work invoices to the school in May, according to copies of the invoices obtained through an open-records request by the Courier-Journal.

The company's travel and work for the case, to this point, has cost U of L more than $307,000, the records show.

U of L's foundation also hired the legal firm of Stites and Harbison to assist with the investigation.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's office said last fall that it is looking into Powell's claims, though Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke said last week that there "is still nothing to report" with regard to that investigation. The office is working in conjunction with the U of L campus police department.

U of L acknowledged in February that it was "reasonable to conclude" that violations occurred in the men's basketball program, according to former university President James Ramsey, which prompted the school to self-impose a postseason ban.

U of L announced more self-imposed penalties in April, saying the school planned to restrict recruiting trips for coaches; cut back on the number of campus visits prospects can make to U of L; and reduce the number of basketball scholarships by two over the next three years.

Ramsey: A legacy of success and scandal