This development wasn’t surprising for Padgett, who was a Louisville assistant for three years before assuming the head coaching position after the FBI’s pay-for-play investigation ensnared Rick Pitino. The Cardinals began the season as a top 25 team, but in October, Pitino was fired, five-star freshman Brian Bowen was suspended in connection to the FBI investigation and they finished the season 22-14, on the outside looking in at The Big Dance.
“I don’t live in a bubble,” Padgett said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I know the chatter about what was going on. It wasn’t a surprise. … You know it’s coming. Until you actually hear it, it’s hard to set in. I’m going to walk out of this room and hold my head high because I gave this program and these players everything I had.”
Despite coaching admirably through the chaos, Louisville missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, excluding their self-imposed ban from the 2015 tournament, doomed Padgett, who was already coaching on a one-year contract. Instead it ended ignominiously in the NIT quarterfinals.
Padgett, 33, will pursue head coaching opportunities elsewhere. However, this situation was undoubtedly difficult for a first-time head coach. Fortunately, the experience should serve him well in the future. Last month, the NCAA vacated Louisville’s records between 2011-12 and 2014-15, which included the 2013 national championship and two Final Four appearances.
Reportedly, Xavier’s Chris Mack, who is still coaching the Musketeers in the Sweet 16, is considered the front-runner. Conversely, Louisville’s interim athletic director Vince Tyra is expected to be retained in the position full-time.
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