AP source: Louisville to hire Kenny Payne as men’s coach

Louisville and Kenny Payne have agreed to a deal for the former Cardinals player and current New York Knicks assistant to become the first black head coach in the men’s basketball program, a person with knowledge of the situation has said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced publicly. The University of Louisville Athletic Association is scheduled to meet Friday morning and the school will hold a press conference at KFC Yum! Home center arena.

Payne, 55, will replace Chris Mack when he begins work in his first head coaching role. Payne has spent the past two years with the Knicks after 10 years as Kentucky’s assistant on John Calipari’s staff. He was also an assistant at Oregon.

“He’s a dear friend, and I’ll tell you, they couldn’t hire anyone who would do a better job than Kenny Payne,” Calipari said Wednesday at an NCAA Tournament press conference in Indianapolis. “I can say he should have been hired before, but, you know what, they got him, they got the best of the best.”

Payne had been mentioned as Louisville’s top target from the time Mack was released Jan. 26 after more than three seasons. Payne is not only hailed as an excellent scout for luring some of the Wildcats’ top talent during his time at Lexington, he is also credited with developing many of their star players.

As a player, Payne scored 1,089 points from 1985 to 1989 at Louisville under Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum. He was a freshman reserve on the Cardinals’ national championship team in 1986.

The Mississippi native faces two huge tasks returning to his alma mater.

Payne’s immediate priority is to lead the program from a 13-19 record. He will face possible NCAA sanctions stemming from a 2017 federal investigation into college basketball corruption. Louisville is awaiting the outcome of the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) regarding the NCAA’s allegations against the program following the federal investigation into college basketball corruption.

The IARP was created based on proposals from the commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform college basketball.

Louisville assistant Mike Pegues served twice as interim coach, guiding the Cardinals to a 5-1 start while Mack was suspended before taking over after his departure. Louisville finished 13-19 and was eliminated in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.


More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25


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