Steve Masiello: No Way Pitino Knew About It

As it turns out, Katina Powell wasn’t lying.

The former escort claimed that Louisville’s basketball program hosted on-campus parties in which strippers were paid to dance for recruits and, in some cases, have sex with them. Several former Louisville recruits have corroborated those reports.

Rick Pitino has said he had no knowledge of these parties.

What do we make of all this?

“I think it’s two things,” former Louisville assistant coach and current Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “On a bigger picture, if you want the coaches to be responsible for everything, which is clearly what the NCAA is saying, then you can’t restrict us with the players. You can’t say, ‘Well you’re only allowed to have contact with them at the office. You can’t take them to a movie. You can only be around them 20 hours a week.’ That’s a really macro, big-picture thing that I think has to be (taken into account). You can’t hold us accountable for everything if our access isn’t there all the time.”

And the second thing?

“I was reading an article about this,” Masiello said, “and they talk about in the average household, there will be affairs, there will be alcoholism, there will be gambling that goes on, children will break curfew – you can live with someone and things will go in your home that you will not know about for weeks, months, years in certain situations. So is (it) possible (to not know certain things are going on)? Yeah, it’s possible. We see it all the time. I think when it comes into the sports stage, we all want to sit back and we’re going to critique it. That’s kind of our business. That’s what this business is. We put ourselves in that situation. There’s a lot of pros that come (with it), but that’s part of the downside. You’re going to get critiqued on how you do your job. It’s a very unfortunate situation.

“The one thing I can say working for coach for six years, I don’t believe there’s any way he knew about it. That’s really all I can say about it.”

Masiello was an assistant at Louisville from 2005-11. He coached Andre McGee, the former Louisville player and assistant coach who reportedly paid for the parties.

“I don’t think you can predict these things,” Masiello said. “When I was around him, he was a great kid, good player, helped us win a lot of games. It’s unfortunate all the way around, especially when you see a lot of people being affected by this. It’s unfortunate.”

Louisville (23-8) beat several tournament teams this season, including North Carolina, Duke, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Cardinals, however, will watch March Madness at home this year. They self-imposed a one-year postseason ban in February.

Masiello believes coaches should be judged less for their players’ transgressions and more for how they respond to those transgressions.

“This is just my belief on things: There are certain things you cannot control,” Masiello said. “I’m not talking about this specific situation. What I look for is how is it handled? When you get the news of this, was there accountability for it? That’s what you base it on. That’s a culture. When things go wrong, do they look the other way? Do you address it? Do you do the appropriate things? That’s where the integrity piece comes in. Crazy things can happen. Unfortunate things can happen, and they’ve happened over the years in sports. Certain things you just can’t prevent. They’re going to happen. If someone decides to do something, that’s it. There’s nothing you can do to stop it. But how did we address it, how did we handle it and how did we react to that? I think that’s what you have to look at.”

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