Ex-Louisville assistant basketball coach Dino Gaudio pleads guilty in federal extortion case

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Former Louisville men's basketball assistant coach Dino Gaudio entered a guilty plea in his federal extortion case during a Friday morning arraignment and will be sentenced Aug. 27.

Gaudio appeared with lawyer Brian Butler before judge Benjamin Beaton in a hearing that took just 28 minutes. The former Cardinals coach will not have a trial by jury due to his plea and, as part of the agreement but subject to the judge's approval, will face probation without any imprisonment and pay a low-end guideline fine.

Gaudio in May was charged with Interstate Communication with Intent to Extort by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky for actions that occurred after Louisville's basketball season. The charge, at its maximum, carries two years in prison, a $250,000 fine (or both) and three years probation.

Former assistant coach Dino Gaudio walks towards the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse on Broadway in Louisville Friday morning, Gaudio would enter a guilty plea to his UofL extortion case. His sentencing is Aug. 27 June 4, 2021
Former assistant coach Dino Gaudio walks towards the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse on Broadway in Louisville Friday morning, Gaudio would enter a guilty plea to his UofL extortion case. His sentencing is Aug. 27 June 4, 2021

While Gaudio did not speak to media Friday, Butler met with reporters outside the U.S. District of Western Kentucky courthouse after the hearing.

"Obviously this is a sad day. This is a man who's had 40 years of just exemplary service to the community and a coaching career where's at the very top of his profession," Butler said.

"He had seven minutes when he got very angry because he felt he had been wronged. He said some things he wished he wouldn't have said and those things were taped. And unfortunately, they were turned over to law enforcement before he really had a chance to walk them back. But he said them."

Butler called Gaudio a man of "responsibility and integrity." He said Gaudio would truthfully answer any questions posed by the NCAA if asked for an interview.

Gaudio's contract, and that of former assistant coach Luke Murray, were not renewed by Louisville coach Chris Mack after the team went 13-7 (8-5 ACC) and missed the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals' last game was March 10 in the conference tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, a 70-56 loss to Duke.

Charging documents state Gaudio, in an in-person meeting with Louisville personnel March 17, threatened to report to the media allegations that the basketball program had violated NCAA rules unless the university paid his salary for an additional 17 months or an equivalent lump sum.

The prosecutor said Friday that Gaudio's monthly pay was $25,000 and a 17-month lump sum would have been $425,000.

The rule-breaking allegations were in the production of recruiting videos for prospective student-athletes and the use of graduate assistants in practices.

Gaudio, 64, also sent a text message to Louisville personnel containing one of the recruiting videos he threatened to send to media, per the charging documents. The text traveled from Kentucky to outside the Commonwealth and back.

The prosecutor said Gaudio demanded a memorandum, or to have the terms of his payout in writing, by Louisville on noon March 18. Louisville did not make any payments, but did self-report to the NCAA and has said publicly that it could cooperate with authorities.

Butler told the Louisville Courier Journal in May that Gaudio was shocked his contract was not renewed after a 30-year professional relationship with Mack. Butler said then that Gaudio in the “heat of passion made statements he wishes he hadn’t made" and "takes full responsibility for his lapse in judgment."

Former assistant coach Dino Gaudio, walking down the steps of the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse on Broadway in Louisville with a law associate, entered a guilty plea to his UofL extortion case. His sentencing is Aug. 27. At far right is attorney Brian Butler.  June 4, 2021
Former assistant coach Dino Gaudio, walking down the steps of the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse on Broadway in Louisville with a law associate, entered a guilty plea to his UofL extortion case. His sentencing is Aug. 27. At far right is attorney Brian Butler. June 4, 2021

Mack and Gaudio shared a long history at three schools: Xavier, Wake Forest and Louisville. Mack played at Xavier when Gaudio was an assistant under Pete Gillen. The late Skip Prosser hired Mack as Xavier's director of basketball operations, where Gaudio returned as an assistant coach. Mack and Gaudio left for Wake Forest with Prosser in 2001.

Mack, a former three-year assistant coach with the Demon Deacons, went back to his alma mater to assist Sean Miller before being promoted to the Musketeers' head coach in 2009. Gaudio worked as ESPN analyst from 2011 to the time he joined Mack at Louisville in 2018.

Mack said in a virtual press conference May 17 that parting ways with Gaudio and Murray was not easy but he believed the program needed a fresh perspective. Said Mack: "That was the first time I let anybody go in the 12 years I've been a head coach, so this isn't anything that is taken lightly. They're two excellent coaches, Dino and Luke. Excellent."

Charging documents for Gaudio's federal extortion case were released one day later.

Gaudio's coaching career started at Wheeling Central Catholic High School in 1980 under Prosser. He broke into the college ranks in 1987 as a Xavier assistant and later held head coaching posts at Army, Loyola (Maryland) and Wake Forest.

He has been released on his own recognizance until returning for his August sentencing.

And what's to become of his coaching future?

"Right now he's just trying to get through this process. Obviously, it's been a difficult time for him and his family," Butler said. "He's looking forward to August and hopefully this is put behind him then."

Follow Shannon Russell on Twitter @slrussell.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Dino Gaudio, former Louisville coach, pleads guilty in extortion case