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Rick Pitino’s attorney wants more information; UofL board of trustees were asked about payments


By Russ Brown
Kentucky Today

The fallout continued Wednesday from the bombshell revelation that a University of Louisville board of trustees member may have been a key figure in the sex parties.

And it isn’t likely to die down anytime soon.

For starters, Rick Pitino’s attorney in his suit against U of L, filed a motion to “explore David Grissom’s claim” that a trustee was the “cash source” for payments to strippers and prostitutes who had sex with basketball players and recruits in a campus dorm.

Furthermore, two former UofL trustees told the Courier Journal they were interviewed by investigators attempting to follow the money that funded Katina Powell’s shenanigans at Billy Minardi Hall.

Rick Pitino (KyForward file photo)

“I had one of the investigators who will go nameless come down to my office,” Bill Stone, a trustee from 2004 to 2010, told the C-J. “They wanted to know who do I know in the intimate circle of U of L supporters who might have the personality to get involved with that kind of thing. I learned from that discussion that they couldn’t prove there was a single dime involved.”

Stone joked that he was “too cheap” to have bankrolled the parties arranged by former basketball assistant Andre McGee. Former trustee Jonathan Blue, who has earned courtside seats at UofL basketball games as a “Louisville Legend” – the highest tier of Cardinal Athletic Fund donors – also confirmed to the C-J that he had been questioned by investigators seeking information about those involved in the scandal.

“Under no circumstances whatsoever would I ever have been involved in any way with any such activities,” Blue said. “If I had heard about it or anyone on the board had that type of information and shared it with me, I would have reported it to the investigators. Any otherwise is an outright lie.”

Dr. Bob Hughes, who chaired the board of trustees from 2013-15, expressed surprise that any trustees had been interviewed.

“I was on the board 12 years and I was chair two,” Hughes said. “And not one time in a board meeting was the possibility of a trustee (being involved) ever discussed.”

“And not one time in any open or private conversations with the administration, and probably no one was closer to Jim Ramsey than I, Huges added, referring to the former UofL president.

The current uproar over the sex scandal exploded when it came to light this week that Grissom, former chairman of the board, made the comment under oath last month that Ramsey had told him a board member had funded the parties. The comment came during a July 26 deposition in the financial fraud lawsuit UofL and its foundation are pursuing against Ramsey and several of his former top aides.

In the motion filed Wednesday, Pitino attorney Steve Pence argues that Grissom’s statement “demands further exploration.” He says Grissom heard this from Ramsey during a time in which the NCAA was investigating the university and the UofL Athletic Association was considering whether to fire Pitino for his alleged role in it. Because of the timing of the alleged comment from Ramsey, Pence argues Grissom:

• Failed to inform the UL Board of Trustees about Dr. Ramsey’s alleged statement.

• Failed to inform the NCAA, or its investigative tribunals, about the allegation.

• Failed to notify UL’s compliance staff about the allegation.

• Failed to have ULAA disclose the information in this lawsuit.

• Took no action to learn the truth of the alleged statement.

David Grissom (Photo from UofL)

As a result, Pence argues that Grissom’s statement “fundamentally affects ULAA’s claim that Coach Pitino is responsible for failing to monitor (assistant coach Andre McGee’s) activities.”

He further contends that Grissom’s failure to take any of the above actions “risks tainting the NCAA decision on which ULAA relies.” Lastly, calling Grissom’s comment a “hearsay rumor,” Pence draws a line between Grissom’s failure to investigate it as a “red flag” to Pitino’s eventual breach of contract, in which the ULAA said he failed to report a rumor that DePaul offered money to former UofL recruit Brian Bowen.

He also says that if Grissom has lied about the trustee as the source of the money, “it constitutes perjury,” meaning Grissom committed a crime.

However, Pence has already questioned Grissom about the allegation in the sworn testimony on the day he made it, because Pence is also Ramsey’s lawyer.

In the motion, Pence is asking a judge to reopen discovery in the lawsuit for 60 days to explore the allegations unearthed in Grisson’s testimony and depose everyone with knowledge of Grissom’s claim.

Apparently, UofL investigated a claim that a trustee was responsbile for providing payment to McGee to forward to Powell.

“I have to get all of the facts, but that is my understanding,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said Wednesday. “It was investigated by our athletics department. . .They found no basis for (the charge).”

Pence earlier had called Grissom’s claim a “complete fabrication.”

“It never came up that there was a suspicion that a trustee was involved … It opens up a whole can of worms for the university, for the NCAA, for the basketball program,” Pence said.

Defense attorney Steve Romines told the C-J that, “If it came out that a board member supplied the money, the (NCAA) punishment is worse. And the more people that know potentially incriminating information, the worse it is.”

Who knows where this may lead. But one thing is certain: it isn’t over yet and could ultimately impact Pitino’s multi-million dollar lawsuit against the university.

Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.


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