Indianapolis-based IBJ Book Publishing LLC and author Katina Powell have been sued by a University of Louisville student who claims her career prospects have been damaged by Powell’s book, which alleges Powell supplied strippers and prostitutes to the Louisville men’s basketball program.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Louisville sophomore Kyle Hornback in a state court in Kentucky, requests an injunction that would order IBJ Publishing to pay all profits from Powell’s book to the court’s receiver.
Hornback’s lawyer, Nader George Shunnarah, has also asked for class-action status on behalf of all University of Louisville students.
“The goal here is to benefit students instead of the prostitute," Shunnarah told the online news site The Bird Cage on Thursday. "Who better to benefit than the students? When you commit a criminal act and it damages an entire university, your degree, the value of your degree, your ability to pay back student loans, and your ability to get a job?”
He added, “Also, if the school is sanctioned by the NCAA and can’t participate in the NCAA tournament, then the school loses money and that affects the students, tuition goes up.”
Shunnarah did not immediately return messages left for him by IBJ on Friday morning. IBJ and IBJ Book Publishing are sister companies.
IBJ Book Publishing declined to comment until it consulted legal counsel.
IBJ Book Publishing released Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” on Oct.2. Since then, the University of Louisville has started two investigations into her allegations, and the NCAA has launched its own investigation into possible recruiting violations. Kentucky’s Commonwealth Attorney is also working with Louisville metro police and the University of Louisville to investigate possible criminal conduct.
A report on Tuesday by the sports network ESPN cited five basketball players who confirmed Powell’s allegations that the former director of men’s basketball operations at Louisville hired Powell repeatedly to provide strippers for current Louisville basketball players and recruits.
The book also claims the staff member, Andre McGee, paid Powell cash for recruits and sometimes their fathers to have sex with some of the strippers. ESPN cited one player who said he had sex with one of the strippers.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said he had no knowledge of the parties and does not intend to resign.
Powell’s attorney, Larry Wilder, issued a written statement Thursday night in response to the lawsuit filed by Hornback and her attorney Shunnarah.
"It seems that Mr. Shunnarah has concluded that Ms. Powell has been telling the truth about the things that happened at the university,” Wilder wrote in an email. “We will defend this lawsuit as vigorously as all the other issues in this case. We will likely add Mr. McGee as a necessary party and likely need to add other coaches, administrators and possibly students to make sure that the case if fully and fairly litigated.”
On a website called COED.com, Hornback wrote that the most memorable thing she did in her freshman year was to win the title Miss Cardinal Country in the Miss University of Louisville pageant.
“This qualifies me to compete in Miss Kentucky 2015 and hopefully Miss America 2016,” Hornback wrote.
She added that she is majoring in political science, plans to go to law school at Louisville and hopes to become a circuit court judge.