Chris Mack confirms he's out as Louisville coach

·4 min read

Chris Mack confirmed on Wednesday that he's out as the Louisville mens's basketball coach.

Mack made the confirmation while speaking with reporters ahead of a meeting with university officials.

"It's been building," Mack said of his exit. "We all want the best for Louisville. I still do. That's not gonna change. ... I'm humble enough if I'm not the right person.

"It's all good, I just want the best for them. They're great kids. I loved my time at Louisville. My kids love it here. I harbor no bitterness."

Mack also said that his players new about his departure before he told them.

Louisville later confirmed on Wednesday that the two parties "mutually agreed to part ways."

"Coaching transitions are always difficult, especially during the course of the season, but Chris and I agreed that it is in the best interests of our student-athletes that he step aside immediately," interim athletic director Josh Heird said via a statement.

Assistant coach Mike Pegues will serve as interim head coach.

The confirmation arrives a day after The Athletic's Seth Davis reported that Louisville and Mack were working on a separation agreement with the expectation that Mack had coached his last game.

The report arrived hours after Louisville's board of trustees and athletic department scheduled a joint meeting for Wednesday to discuss "pending litigation and personnel matters." Meanwhile, 790 KRD's Nick Coffey reported that Mack's radio show scheduled for Tuesday night had been canceled.

Mack was in his fourth year at Louisville after joining the program for the 2018-19 season. He was previously the head coach at Xavier for nine seasons that produced three conference champions and eight NCAA tournament teams. He took over a program still in the shadow of the Rick Pitino scandal that ultimately saw the NCAA strip Louisville of its 2013 national championship.

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 10: Louisville Cardinals forward head coach Chris Mack looks on during a college basketball game against the DePaul Blue Demons on Dec. 10, 2021 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Chris Mack might have coached his last game at Louisville. (Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Cardinals made the NCAA tournament in Mack's first season and were projected to make the 2020 tournament with a 24-7 record before it was canceled at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisville missed the tournament with a 13-7 record last season and is 11-9 this season.

Did Chris Mack lose the confidence of his players?

The Cardinals are 5-5 in conference play in a down year in the ACC. They started 4-0 in conference play, but have since lost five of their last six games. Following a loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, center Malik Williams was asked if players were still responding to Mack's coaching staff or tuning them out.

After pausing to collect his thoughts, Williams responded: "I don't have a comment for that."

Season started amid extortion scandal, NCAA probe

Louisville suspended Mack for six games in August while stating that he "failed to follow university guidelines, polices and procedures" related to a federal extortion case against his former assistant coach Dino Gaudio.

Prosecutors accused Gaudio of threatening to share recruiting videos with media that allegedly demonstrated NCAA violations at Louisville if the program didn't pay him 17 months of salary (roughly $425,000) after he lost his job last March. Gaudio was sentenced to probation in August after pleading guilty to one count of interstate communication with the intent to extort.

Louisville didn't specify what guidelines Mack failed to follow, but clarified that he was "a victim of an extortion attempt" and that the sanctions against him were "unrelated to the extortion attempt itself and the ongoing NCAA process." The NCAA named Mack in a notice of allegations in October accusing the program of producing impermissible videos.

Mack was in the fourth year of a seven-year, $28 million contract he signed when he joined the Cardinals.