Louisville part ways with Chris Mack: Cardinals quit basketball coach midway through fourth season

Chris Mack is out as coach of Louisville’s men’s basketball program, the school announced Wednesday. Assistant Mike Pegues was named interim coach. The settlement between Mack, the university’s board of trustees and the Louisville Athletic Association is for $4.8 million to be paid over three years.

“Waking up every day for the past four years as head coach at the University of Louisville has been an opportunity I will cherish,” Mack said in a statement. declaration published by Louisville. “For the past 50 years, this position has been among the most coveted in all of college sports and I consider myself fortunate to have been part of the rich history of this university.

“It is with this sense of appreciation that I have made the decision to no longer be your coach. I know that I will miss the daily interactions with our student-athletes, coaches and fellow college students, but after 25 years training, including the last 13 as a head coach, it’s time for me to focus on my family and spend more time being a dad. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know that I only take away the cherished memories and friends we made in the community and at this university.”

At the time of his hire in 2018, Mack was considered the biggest coach in the college basketball market during that year’s hiring cycle. Mack, 52, was hired by the Cardinals in 2018 and went 68-37, including an 11-9 record this season. He left Xavier, his alma mater, after a successful nine-year run where he won 69% of his games, made the NCAA Tournament eight times and skillfully navigated the Musketeers in the Big East after leaving the Atlantic 10 His tenure as Xavier culminated with the program’s first No. scandals under Rick Pitino (who is now Iona’s coach).

Mack’s time in Louisville started well but has gotten tough since the pandemic began. The Cardinals were unique in the 2019 NCAA Tournament in Mack’s freshman season, then had a 24-7 record and were heading for a quality seed in 2020 before COVID-19 killed March Madness. In 2020-21, Louisville went 13-7 due to multiple schedule cancellations and COVID breaks and ultimately was a surprise snub of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. This led to Mack making personnel changes that some found surprising, most notably former assistant Dino Gaudio, who threatened to extort Mack if he didn’t help Gaudio get the money he thought he deserved.

Mack secretly recorded this conversation. Gaudio was charged with attempted extortion, but ended up getting away with it lightly and avoided serving time in prison. The university said Mack’s decision to fire Gaudio violated proper university procedure and suspended him for the first six games of this season. Recent issues beyond the drama of the last offseason have accelerated Mack’s ouster.

Mack’s contract stated he owed more than $12 million if fired, although there was a clause that reduced his buyout to $0 if a Level I or Level II violation occurred while under his watch. .

In the fall, the NCAA updated a pre-existing Notice of Allegations against Louisville to include alleged/prohibited actions such as illegal on-court activities and recruiting videos. Due to these allegations, which were revealed by Gaudio in the recording made by Mack, Mack could also be held responsible as a head coach. This is more relevant since Louisville was already on probation since the transgressions under Pitino. If true, these would be Level II violations and could void the terms of Mack’s takeover. The NCAA says Mack failed to properly encourage compliance within its program.

The case has not been resolved and is not expected to be for several months, sources told CBS Sports.

Louisville has lost five of its last six games, the only win in that streak at home against a sub-.500 Boston College. After the team’s 12-point loss in Pittsburgh on January 15, Mack said, “I take full responsibility that our team just isn’t competing. It’s extremely frustrating at this point, but it falls on deaf ears. Until I can understand what motivates our group, I don’t see much change. It’s frustrating.”

Mack also said, “We’re just not doing the job. It’s directly on me and I have to come up with something different.”

Louisville’s separation from Mack comes at a time when the university does not have a sitting president or athletic director. The Cardinals’ job — widely considered one of the best in men’s college basketball — becomes the second big job on the market after Maryland opened in early December when Mark Turgeon resigned.

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