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The 2015-16 college basketball had yet to start when Outside the Lines’ John Barr and ESPN college basketball Insider Jeff Goodman presented a wide-ranging story on the University of Louisville basketball program’s recruiting practices that reverberated across the sports world.
Now, on the eve of Selection Sunday, Barr and OTL revisit the Louisville scandal with a new interview with Powell and other developments in the case (Sunday OTL, ESPN, 9 a.m. ET; ESPN2, 10 a.m.). Andy Katz hosts and guests will include Barr, ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neill and Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan.
“After several conversations with a source source close to the NCAA investigation, we realized that we could report new information about what NCAA investigators know about what happened at Louisville,” said Barr, who returned to Louisville this week with producer Caitlin Stanco. “This is information that did not come from Powell or her attorney. According to yet another source we spoke with, a person who has knowledge of the NCAA enforcement process, that new information from a source close to the investigation is sufficient to make the case a ‘slam dunk’.”
Louisville has self-imposed sanctions that will keep them from postseason competition this year. The NCAA has been investigating Louisville since Powell, a former escort, detailed in her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” that several dancers were paid to have sex with recruits and players at parties hosted by former Cardinal staff member Andre McGee.
“It’s always a juggling act,” he said. “But, when possible, we try to keep in touch with sources and continue to push to find new reporting avenues to explore. That’s what we did in this case. We knew there was interest in updating the Louisville story. We knew that Powell was meeting NCAA investigators for a second time in early March so, to us, it made sense to sit down with Powell and her attorney once again, after their second meeting with the NCAA, to try to get a better understanding of what NCAA investigators are focusing on and what Powell has shared with investigators to date.”
Of particular note in the follow-up reporting is the fact that Barr was able to track down McGee, the former Cardinals’ graduate assistant and Director of Basketball Operations at the center of much of Powell’s book. He has hardly been seen and has not spoken publicly since the scandal broke.
– John Barr on getting Andre McGee for a rare interview
“We acted on a tip about where Andre McGee is currently working,” Barr said. “It took a little doing but we managed to find McGee at his current job, or what may well be one of his current jobs. We had made several past attempts to try to find McGee and, for this story, I’m pleased to say that we finally did.
“In the end, McGee proved to be as unwilling as he’s been in the past to really engage us on the subject of what happened at Louisville, but I think it may surprise some people when they find out what it is that Andre McGee is up to these days,” he said.
As for Powell herself, Barr noticed some changes in his interview subject from when they first met in October.
“My impression is that Powell is just burned out after dealing with the backlash from her book,” he said. “She told us she’s received a number of threats on social media. Not any that make her immediately concerned about her well being, mind you, but enough that it got her attention. She’s also being sued by several people who question some of the claims in her book and she still faces possible criminal charges.
“The one thing I’ve always maintained about Powell is that, no matter what you may think of her as a person and the choices she’s made in her life, her information about the parties checked out, time and again, when we went to others for confirmation,” he said. “Our original story in October revealed that and this update will drive that point home even more.”