BOZICH | Vitale says Pitino is finished thinking, intends to coa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Vitale says Pitino is finished thinking, intends to coach Louisville next season

Posted: Updated:
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale (right) says that Louisville coach Rick Pitino plans to return next season. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale (right) says that Louisville coach Rick Pitino plans to return next season.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDRB) – Dick Vitale worked the Louisville-Virginia basketball game for ESPN television last night, and he knew the lead story was not the story on the scoreboard.

The story was the future of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whose program has taken itself out of the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments because the school has acknowledged that rules have been broken during a sex and stripper scandal that unfolded in the basketball dorm between 2010-2014.

Vitale said that he talked to Pitino several times the last two days, including Saturday night before the game at John Paul Jones Arena. Vitale said that Pitino told him that he plans to coach the Cardinals next season and that he will move David Padgett, the program’s director of operations, into the assistant coaching spot that will open when Ralph Willard departs.

(Vitale and Pitino are close. Vitale was one of Pitino’s presenters when the U of L coach was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.)

What Vitale said Pitino told him is bit of a shift from what Pitino said earlier this week. He told Eric Crawford of WDRB that it was highly likely that he would return next season, but that he would wait several weeks before finalizing that decision.

“He’s not waiting,” Vitale said. “He’s coming back. He’s already thought about it. He’s decided. He loves Louisville and he thinks he’s going to have a really good team next season. He’s excited.”

Vitale told me to ask U of L senior assistant athletic Kenny Klein about his belief that Pitino would address the issue after the game. “I don’t know,” Klein said.

The follow-up question is obvious: Will Louisville decide to make a coaching change or bring Pitino back for his 16th season?

U of L athletic director Tom Jurich has been supportive of Pitino, but has not commented on the coach's future with the program for several months. The top administrative level at Louisville is equally turbulent. Several members of the school’s board of trustees publicly expressed their lack of confidence in U of L president Dr. James Ramsey last Tuesday.

Don’t forget this plot twist: On Friday, board chairman Larry Benz issued a statement saying that he was “deeply convinced” the NCAA would clear Pitino of any involvement in the scandal that centers around Andre McGee, a former Pitino player who later became the program’s director of operations.

“Our genuine hope is that Coach Pitino is our coach for as many years as he wants,” Benz wrote.

And what Pitino wants, Vitale said, is to coach the Cardinals again next season.

“He’s the coach and he wants to be the coach,” Vitale said.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.