A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Report says Xavier’s Chris Mack will become University of Louisville’s new basketball coach

By Russ Brown
Kentucky Today

The long-talked-about hiring of Xavier’s Chris Mack as the new University of Louisville head men’s basketball coach is apparently coming to fruition.

Citing an unidentified source “with direct knowledge of the deal,” Courier-Journal reported Tuesday afternoon that Mack and U of L have agreed to terms on a seven-year deal. The move comes as no surprise because Mack has long been considered new athletics director Vince Tyra’s top target. The C-J said the school is expected to introduce Mack at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Mack, 48, will be charged with restoring order to a program that has traditionally been one of the most successful in the country but has been in chaos for the last few years due to NCAA problems, an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball and the firing of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino was fired shortly before preseason practice for the 2017-2018 campaign got underway and assistant David Padgett was named the interim coach. Padgett was then released last Wednesday following a 22-14 season that concluded with a loss in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

In his ninth season at Xavier, Mack directed the Musketeers to the regular-season Big East Conference championship, and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they were upset by No. 9 Florida State in the second round to finish 29-6. Under Mack, Xavier has won 23 or more games seven times in nine seasons and have advanced to three Sweet Sixteens and one Elite Eight.

Mack will inherit a Louisville team that is expected to return at least six players who saw significant action last season in current sophomores V.J. King, Dwayne Sutton and Ryan McMahon and freshmen Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora and Malik Williams. Also expected back is freshmen Lance Thomas and Connecticut transfer Steven Enoch becomes eligible.

Louisville’s two best players and top two scorers and rebounders, Deng Adel and Ray Spalding, are both juniors and could also return. But Spalding has said he will test his NBA prospects without hiring an agent, and it is anticipated that Adel will do the same.

The Cardinals haven’t signed any recruits for next season.

Tyra moved quickly to close the deal with Mack after his interim tag was removed Monday. He had said earlier he planned to hire an “elite” coach for an “elite” program, and Monday he spoke briefly about what he considered other qualifications for the job.

“Someone who really wants to be here and has a love and passion for this university,” Tyra said. “They can get in here and really appreciate the legacy and relate to this community and has all the virtues that represent our culture. They’re certainly going to be a winner, or they wouldn’t get into the finalist’s list, but I think that’s really important, to have a fit right now. They need to understand what our expectations are as to running a clean program as well.”

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