BOZICH | What's next for Louisville basketball and AD? Some names
What's next for University of Louisville basketball as well as the athletics department after the jarring developments on Wednesday?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Who’s next?
Until Tuesday, the University of Louisville was a consensus pre-season Top 10 pick in college basketball for the 2017-18 season.
Until the last two years, Tom Jurich was considered a Top 10 athletic director, a guy as powerful as any AD in America.
Then federal prosecutors revealed the results of an investigation that included an allegation a player believed to be a University of Louisville freshman agreed to join Rick Pitino’s program in exchange for a $100,000 payment the university allegedly facilitated through an athletics wear company.
On Wednesday, that move led U of L interim president Dr. Greg Postel to place Pitino on unpaid administrative leave and Jurich on paid administrative leave. Postel said he expects to name interim replacements for both men in the next 24-to-48 hours.
The games will go on. The Cardinals will play their first exhibition Oct 30 against Kentucky Wesleyan. Less than two weeks later, with an exhibition against Bellarmine booked in between, the Cardinals open the regular season Nov. 11 against George Mason at the KFC Yum! Center.
What’s next for the University of Louisville – at athletic director or as the men’s basketball coach?
A roll of potential names, first as the interim basketball coach.
Jerry Eaves – Point guard for the Cardinals’ 1980 NCAA championship team, Eaves is the head coach at Simmons College as well as the host of a local mid-day radio show. Eaves, 58, served as head coach at North Carolina A&T for nine seasons. The Aggies finished 1-25 before Eaves took over in 2003. He delivered six consecutive seasons with 11 wins or more before he was replaced in 2012. Eaves would fit on an interim basis.
Kenny Payne – The former Cardinal star has been John Calipari’s top assistant at Kentucky since 2009 and been credited for his work in assisting the development of big men like Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. The drawback? Payne, 50, has an excellent job at Kentucky making it unlikely he’d be willing to take over as an interim coach or on a short-term contract.
Butch Beard – A former U of L all-American who played with Wes Unseld, Beard has head coaching experience in college (Howard University and Morgan State) as well as the NBA (New Jersey Nets). He works with Eaves at Simmons College. Although he is 70, Beard retains a passion for the game as well as for U of L. Another solid interim choice.
David Padgett - A former Pitino player and current U of L assistant, Padgett is considered an up-and-comer in the game who is well liked in the locker room for his calm and thoughtful approach.
Scott Davenport – The only coach who worked for Denny Crum and Pitino at U of L, Davenport has done fabulous work at Bellarmine University. He led the Knights to the 2011 NCAA Division II title. Davenport is 13 seasons into his tenure at Bellarmine. Would he give that up to help a school that he loves on an interim basis?
Tom Crean – Dismissed by Indiana University last March after nine seasons, Crean moved to Florida during the summer and is expected to work as an analyst for ESPN this season. But Crean, 51, has said his passion for coaching continues to burn and he directed Marquette to the 2003 NCAA Final Four. He also won two Big Ten regular seasons titles at IU without a sniff of NCAA trouble.
Thad Matta – Another veteran coach who will be on the sidelines this season after his surprising dismissal at Ohio State in June. Matta, 50, won 20 games or more during his first 15 seasons as a head coach, the first three at Xavier and the last dozen with the Buckeyes. After taking Ohio State to the national championship game in 2007 and the Final Four in 2012, he failed to make the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. Maybe he could regain his mojo at a new address.
John Thompson III – Thompson, 51, joined Matta and Crean in the ex-coach category after his Georgetown team struggled to a 14-18 record last winter, the Hoyas’ second consecutive losing season. But Thompson won back-to-back Big East titles in 2007 and 2008 and his 2013 team finished 25-7. He is another coach whose career passes the scandal test – and he might want to rebuild his brand on an interim basis.
Darrin Horn – Another coach with ties to the state of Kentucky but who also has a job, working as an assistant to Shaka Smart at Texas. A Lexington native, Horn, 44, played and coached at Western Kentucky, leading the Hilltoppers to the 2008 Sweet Sixteen. He left for South Carolina where he was dismissed after four seasons.
The list of potential interim athletic director candidate is considerably shorter.
Junior Bridgeman – The former U of L and NBA star has been even more successful in the business world, building a vast and thriving collection of restaurants across the area. Bridgeman has served the university on the Board of Trustees as well as on the athletics board while building his popularity through other community projects.
Kenny Klein – Known as one of the best communicators in college sports, Klein has worked at U of L for 35 years in the media relations office. He is respected by administrators, coaches and media personnel for his poised and thoughtful approach to his job – and is connected to top leaders in the ACC and NCAA.
Dan McDonnell – Considered by many as Jurich’s top hire, McDonnell has built a perennial Top 10 baseball program at a school that had never made the NCAA Tournament until he took over in 2007. His team has played in the College World Series four times. Jurich considered him an extraordinary leader, and he is respected by other U of L coaches for his integrity.
Marvin Mitchell – Hired by Jurich in 1999, Mitchell has improved U of L’s academic performance by its athletes and extended the school’s continuing education program. Mitchell played football at Wake Forest and has earned the respect of U of L athletes he encounters.
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