Louisville announced on Friday, roughly 48 hours after Rick Pitino lost his job, that assistant coach and former Cardinal player David Padgett has been promoted to interim head coach for the 2017-18 season.
Padgett said during Friday’s press conference that he will be deciding on a coaching staff next week after an interim athletic director is put into place. He also said that he was not mentioned in the FBI complaint that was released on Tuesday, meaning that he is not Coach-1. Earlier on Friday, a local radio show reported that Coach-1 is assistant coach Jordan Fair.
Today was the first day that the NCAA allows college basketball teams to officially begin practicing.
Padgett, as has been reported by multiple outlets in Louisville and confirmed by NBC Sports, was the popular pick amongst the players on the team to replace Pitino.
An assistant coach with IUPUI for three season, Padgett spent his first two years with Louisville as the Director of Basketball Operations. He was promoted to a full-time assistant prior to the 2016-17 seasons after Ralph Willard left the coaching staff.
This is probably the smartest move Louisville could have made. Padgett has the backing of the locker room. He may be in over his head running a top 15 team in college basketball as a 32-year old interim coach, but at the very least you should expect the players on that roster to play hard for him. Given the timing of everything that has happened – the FBI complaints were released 72 hours before practices could start and Pitino was fired a day later – and the fact that there is no athletic director or permanent president in place, the idea of hiring a coach for the longterm before practices began seemed unlikely, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding Louisville’s position with the NCAA.
If, say, Chris Mack or Shaka Smart wanted the job right now, they’ll want it come March as well.
The one risk is that the Cardinals are promoting from within what has proven to be an athletic department that cannot be trusted. Padgett was on a staff that the FBI can prove has cheated. While he might not have been named, it’s hard to say with 100 percent certainty that he wasn’t involved.
My understanding, and the feeling in the coaching industry, is that Padgett was not the one involved in the FBI complaint. Who knows if that will prove to be true.
So Louisville is taking a risk.
But any decision they made here would have been a risk.
And Padgett seems to make the most sense.