Louisville names former IUPUI assistant coach as Pitino’s interim replacement
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has named assistant David Padgett as the interim replacement for men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, staying in-house to maintain continuity in the wake of a nationwide federal investigation of the sport.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Padgett said at a news conference on campus Friday. “It’s a very tumultuous time.”
University interim President Greg Postel made the announcement, two days after Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave after the school acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave.
Ten people have been arrested in the corruption case, including four college assistant coaches and an Adidas executive. Cardinals 6-foot-7 freshman Brian Bowen was not named in federal documents, but details in the criminal complaint make it clear investigators were referring to Bowen. Postel also did not single out Postel, but said Wednesday that one student-athlete has been informed he will not practice or play for the university until the investigation is resolved.
Padgett, who was an assistant coach at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis from 2011 to 2014, said that Bowen is still enrolled at Louisville.
When Padgett was asked how he could not know what was going on, he declined to comment but said he is taking the interim position for “the team.” After Postel introduced Padgett, the interim president did not take any questions.
“I’m not looking past the next six, eight months,” Padgett said.
Padgett, 32, is coming off his first season as an assistant following two as Louisville’s director of basketball operations. A three-year starting forward with the Cardinals under Pitino, he has worked extensively with frontcourt players.
“My focus right now is on these kids,” said Padgett, who added that he last talked with Pitino on Wednesday. “They’re here to play basketball.”
Team captains are scheduled to speak with the media later Friday night.
The 6-foot-11 Padgett has also been Louisville’s strength coach (2010-11) in a career including three years as an IUPUI assistant.
“This is Louisville, it is a top five program and I’m trying to keep its reputation intact as much as possible.”
That will be one of many challenges Padgett faces as he replaces his mentor, a Hall of Famer.
Pitino, 65, went 416-143 in 16 years with the Cardinals and won the 2013 NCAA championship.
Earlier Friday, Louisville radio host Terry Meiners tweeted a text message from Pitino in which the coach said “It’s been so tough” dealing with his removal and “I miss my players so much”.
Pitino has also continued to maintain he has done nothing wrong — saying “the rush to judgment is regrettable” in a statement issued Wednesday through his attorney — Pitino is out, maybe permanently. Pitino is not named in the federal documents, but his attorney Steve Pence has said Louisville “effectively fired” Pitino.