The University of Louisville and Chris Mack have parted ways. The rumor is that UofL and Mack negotiated a settlement that will pay him a $5 million buyout instead of the $12 million stipulated in his original contract. Once we get confirmation of what the actual buyout figure is, we will update you. He leaves UofL after a tenure of 4 seasons during which his record was 68-37 and he made only a single NCAA Tournament appearance.
Mack wrapped things up by saying he has nothing but love for Louisville and it’s fans and of course, wishes the best for Mike Pegues. pic.twitter.com/EV0P79F2cN— Dominique Yates (@RealDYates) January 26, 2022
Mack arrived at UofL after a successful run at his Alma Mater Xavier. He led Xavier to 3 Sweet 16 appearances, an Elite 8, and a number 1 seed in the tournament. Before that, he had been an assistant at Xavier and Wake Forest.
When Mack arrived at UofL, there were high hopes. He had a swagger and seemed to have an understanding of what it meant to be the Louisville coach. He instituted a version of a midnight madness we now call Louisville Live which has been a breath of fresh air. It seemed like the perfect fit, but then it wasn’t.
His first season saw a lot of inconsistent play. It was something that would plague all his Louisville teams. It also saw his team swoon in February which became a hallmark during his tenure as well. He did make the tournament, but had an underwhelming first round loss to Minnesota.
The next season, Mack had the Cards firmly in the tournament despite another late-season slide. Sadly, Covid made its presence felt and any hope of tournament success was dashed.
Last season saw two Covid pauses, two of the most lopsided losses in program history, and another February swoon that led to UofL missing the tournament. While they did have some big wins, the late season slide did them in. It led to a rather tumultuous off season.
This past off season, Mack decided to make big staff changes. This staff overhaul led to a domino effect of bad press, NCAA violations being revealed, a suspension, and the end of his tenure as UofL head coach.
Mack decided to let go of assistant coaches Luke Murray and Dino Gaudio. The Gaudio firing went completely awry as Gaudio extorted Mack. This is where the violations came to light as Gaudio attempted to use them as leverage for money. Mack recorded the extortion attempt which led to more public embarrassment for a university that did not need it.
Eventually, Mack was punished for his apparent mishandling of the firing of Gaudio when he didn’t have another athletic department member in the room as a witness which is protocol. A 6-game suspension was issued to Mack for the first 6 games of the season.
That 6-game suspension likely exacerbated the already precarious situation. Mack not only overhauled the staff, but he overhauled the roster. Numerous freshmen, grad transfers, and transfers were brought in. Unfortunately, it appears that once he returned from suspension, he couldn’t figure out how to integrate and use all the new pieces of his roster. Even up until his last game on Monday he tried numerous lineup combos and gave them varying degrees of minutes trying to find the right combos.
Chris Mack is a good coach. Unfortunately, circumstances and his style of play just did not fit the University of Louisville. His tenure wasn’t all bad. There was the 15-point victory over an undefeated Michigan squad in 2019. The Yum Center was rocking and everything seemed great then. There were the two victories over Coach K and Duke, the victory against UNC in which UofL handed the Tar Heels their most lopsided home loss in the history of the Dean Dome, and the 4-point victory over then 5th-ranked Michigan State in his inaugural season. In the end, it appears Mack just wasn’t a good fit for UofL.
We at CSZ wish him the best in his future endeavors and now look to the search for UofL’s next head coach.
Update: The negotiated buyout is for $4.8 million to be paid over 4 fiscal years, including this year per Interim AD Josh Heird.
Below is Louisville’s official press release and video of Interim AD Josh Heird’s press conference:
Interim Athletic Director Josh Heird addresses the changes in the Men's Basketball program. https://t.co/CHTpUQUqp3— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) January 26, 2022
Press Release From UofL Athletics:
Louisville, Mack Mutually Part Ways
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Mack have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately, Interim Director of Athletics Josh Heird announced today.
Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Pegues will serve as Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the season.
“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,” said Heird. “We will always prioritize our student-athletes and do all that we can to ensure that they have an incredible experience at Louisville. I want to thank Chris and his family for their service to the University and we wish them the very best in their next chapter.”
Mack ends his tenure at U of L with a 68-36 record over three and a half seasons, including 38-23 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. Mack came to Louisville after leading Xavier to eight NCAA Tournaments, including an appearance in the Elite Eight in 2017.
“To wake up every day these last four years as the head coach of the University of Louisville has been an opportunity that I will cherish,” said Mack. “Over the past 50 years, this position has been among the most coveted in all of college sports and I count myself lucky to have been a part of this university’s storied history.
“It is with that sense of appreciation that I have made the decision to no longer be your coach. I know that I will miss the daily interactions with our student-athletes, coaches and my university colleagues, but after 25 years of coaching, including the last 13 as a head coach, it is time for me to focus on my family and spend more time being a dad. I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I take away from here only the cherished memories and friends we have made in this community and this university.
“Any of us who is given the opportunity to represent this great university knows that we are only in this position because of the passion, support and pride of Cardinal Nation, and I know that the University of Louisville basketball program’s best days remain ahead of it. Coach Pegues is ready to lead this program through the home stretch of the season, and I encourage everyone to pack the KFC Yum! Center to show our players how much the Louisville community cares about Cardinal Basketball.
“With all of our hearts, my family and I thank you for your passion and support and wish Cardinal Nation and the University of Louisville nothing but the best moving forward. Go Cards!”
Pegues (pronounced puh-GEESE) is in his fourth year at UofL after working six seasons at Xavier (2012-18). Before his time at Xavier, Pegues spent two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Delaware. Pegues had a stellar collegiate career at Delaware, where he earned a degree in communications in 2000. The all-time leading scorer in Delaware men’s basketball history with 2,030 points, Pegues led the Blue Hens to two NCAA Tournament appearances from 1996-2000. A native of Washington, D.C., Pegues played professionally in Italy, New Zealand, England and Argentina, as well as one season in the Continental Basketball Association. He guided the Cardinals to a 5-1 record in the first six games of this season while serving as acting head coach.
“I have complete confidence in Mike Pegues, who did a tremendous job leading the team in November and I am comforted that he has agreed to lead us the rest of the season,” said Heird. “We have set a high bar for expectations for our basketball program, on and off of the court, and we will continue to strive to meet those goals. We have world-class student-athletes, academics, facilities, tradition and fan support, and I am confident that we will be able to find the right new leader of our cherished men’s basketball program. As we conduct a deliberate and targeted search, our focus will continue to be on our student-athletes and I am confident that Cardinal Nation will rally around them.”