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Mack out as Louisville hoops coach, Pegues named interim

louisville basketball

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chris Mack is out as Louisville men’s basketball coach after he and the school agreed to part ways. Assistant Mike Pegues has been named interim coach for the remainder of the Cardinals’ season.

The agreement was announced Wednesday following a special joint meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees and the University of Louisville Athletic Association board. Interim athletic director Josh Heird said that Mack will be paid $4.8 million between this fiscal year and the next three fiscal years.

Mack leaves after going 6-8 since returning Dec. 1 from a six-game suspension by the school for failing to follow university guidelines in his handling of an extortion attempt by fired Cardinals assistant coach Dino Gaudio last spring. Pegues guided the Cardinals to a 5-1 start while Mack was sidelined and now will try to lift the team out of a slump that includes five losses in its last six games.

“This was our best path moving forward,” Heird said after the nearly two-hour meeting adding that it was mutually agreed to.

Mack met with his team on Wednesday morning and later acknowledged, “They already knew,” referring to reports about his exit. He declined to tell reporters when the process began as he left the team’s training center just before the trustees and athletic board met, but added that he wasn’t bitter about the ending.

Mack spoke with a small number of reporters for a few moments outside the facility, not long before the meeting that formalized his separation from Louisville began.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” Mack said. “I’m not bitter. I love these guys. The university’s been great to me and my family. Life’s too short to live bitter. Just really appreciative.”

He didn’t offer specifics on when he thought things began turning the wrong way for him, other than saying “it’s been building.” And he insisted that he still wants what’s best for Louisville and his players, adding that will not change.

“I’m humble enough that if I’m not the right person, all good, man,” Mack said. “Just want the best for them. They’re great kids. I loved my time at Louisville. My kids love it here. And so, I harbor no bitterness. Life’s too short. I know in 2022 everybody wants to be a victim. Never live my life that way, at all.”

Mack’s meeting with reporters came after he addressed his now-former team, and lamented the fact that players already knew what was happening before he could tell them he was leaving.

“They already knew,” Mack said. “They already knew. You can’t do things the right way anymore. You need approval and all that stuff. I wanted to be the first to tell them.”

Louisville is 11-9 (5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) but needs to win out in hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Mack’s inaugural 2018-19 season.

Mack signed a seven-year contract in March 2018 that paid an annual base salary of $4 million with a $250,000 increase enacted last spring. Three years remain, but the deal also included a buyout clause in which he would owe the school $4.5 million if he resigned before April.