Louisville passes on fresh start in replacing Rick Pitino
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The extent of Louisville’s no-win basketball situation was laid bare Friday when the school introduced its interim head coach for the 2017-18 season.
He is David Padgett, a 32-year-old with no head-coaching experience and just five years as a full-time college assistant. Padgett is a likable man, was a laudable player and has been regarded as a rising star in the profession – and he showed great poise navigating a news conference fraught with peril here Friday. He certainly struck a better tone than interim president Gregory Postel, who declared it an “exciting announcement.”
Under even remotely normal circumstances, Padgett would not be a candidate for the job he just got. And beyond his coaching résumé, the most risky aspect for Louisville is his close ties to the head coach who just left in disgrace, Rick Pitino. On Friday, Pitino released a statement to Yahoo Sports and six other outlets in which he continued to deny any knowledge of payments.
“… As I’ve previously stated, I had no knowledge of any payments to any recruit or their family. But I was the head coach and I will take ownership of my decisions,” Pitino said in the statement. “The University took the action they thought was necessary and I will do the same.”
Padgett played for Pitino and has worked under him in multiple capacities. He was on staff during the massive NCAA and legal debacles of recent years.
Oh, and there is this: Padgett’s agent during a brief professional career was Andy Miller. Last we heard about Miller, the FBI was raiding his office as part of the corruption investigation that nuked Pitino’s Hall of Fame career and has sent shock waves throughout college basketball this week.
(Padgett said Friday that he had Miller as his agent for the two years he played professionally, and the only relationship he has with him since then is an annual text he receives on his birthday.)
So not exactly a clean start from the atomic blast of sludge that has coated the Louisville program.
While the school is rushing to have a skeleton coaching staff in place with basketball practice starting nationwide, it is taking a simultaneous leap of faith – that there won’t be continued scandalous eruptions that involve the holdovers from the Pitino regime. Whatever anyone at Louisville says about due diligence concerning those retained, the 48 hours that passed since Pitino was forced out is nowhere near enough time to be sure of anything.
In fact, there is at least one major issue lingering, and it can be found on pages 21 and 22 of the U.S. Attorney’s release pertaining to the charges filed against Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code. That section pertains to the Louisville/Adidas scheme to pay recruits.