In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association’s board of directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men’s basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave for his alleged role in funneling $100,000 to the family of an unnamed recruit.
On Oct. 2, the athletic association board, which is composed of trustees, faculty members, students and administrators, voted to begin the process of terminating Pitino’s contract for cause. Pitino’s lawyers appeared before the board Monday and submitted an affidavit on the coach’s behalf.
“I do not dispute ULAA’s right to terminate my employment at its discretion,” Pitino said in his affidavit, via ESPN. “But I vehemently reject its right to do so ‘for cause.’ I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the board met in executive session for nearly five hours Monday before announcing its decision.
“We listened carefully to what they said, we read carefully everything they gave us,” Louisville interim president Greg Postel said of the presentation by Pitino’s legal team. “At the end of the conversation we felt that our initial decision to begin the process of termination for cause was still in the best interests of the university. And that’s why the resolution was put forth and passed.”
Pitino coached 16 years at Louisville and led the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA championship. He was the highest paid coach in college basketball with a 2017-18 salary of nearly $7.8 million, according to USA Today, and had $43.99 million in salary and bonuses remaining on his current contract, which was extended through the 2025-26 season. Louisville named David Padgett its interim coach on Sept. 29.
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