LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Three weeks after a second embarrassing scandal rocked the University of Louisville basketball program, Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino has been formally fired.
Led by UofL Interim President Dr. Greg Postel, the school's athletic association made the decision in a private meeting Monday. Postel announced at about 2:45 p.m., Pitino was fired for cause.
The scandal was the second in two years -- a Louisville woman's tell-all memoir detailed a sex-for-cash scheme involving strippers and UofL players and recruits in 2015 -- and brought embarrassment for the third time in Pitino's 16 years at the school. In 2010, a woman named Karen Sypher was convicted of extortion following her efforts to force Pitino to pay her money to keep quiet about a one-night stand they had at a Louisville restaurant in 2003. Sypher just left prison over the summer.
Pitino was placed on unpaid leave in September, following the FBI's announcement of a massive investigation into bribery and corruption allegations at several prominent college basketball programs.
Former UofL player and assistant coach David Padgett is currently the acting coach of a Cards team that begins its regular season in less than a month. Padgett will be only the third UofL coach since 1971.
Padgett's contract was formally approved at Monday's meeting. He'll earn a base salary of $400,000, with bonuses taking the one-year deal up to the $1 million range.
Legal Battle Ahead?
Pitino appears poised for a legal fight over the many millions of dollars remaining on his contract.
The coach had a 416-143 record in his 16 seasons at UofL. The Cardinals reached the NCAA Tournament in 13 of the last 15 years. They won the national championship in 2013, but the still-unfinished investigation into the prostitution scandal could force that banner to come down.
He is the first head coach to win national championships at two schools; his 1996 Kentucky team cut down the nets after Pitino revived a program that was on probation.
Pitino also led an upstart Providence team to the 1987 Final Four, parlaying that success into an NBA job, but his tenure as coach of the New York Knicks was a rocky one. Pitino would try the NBA again after his time at Kentucky, but again, leading the Boston Celtics proved to be more difficult than coaching college players. He left the NBA a second time in 2001 after UofL legend Denny Crum stepped down.