LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The done deal is now a done deal.
Chris Mack is the new men's basketball coach at the University of Louisville.
Mack and UofL made things official Wednesday, a day after local and national media and construction workers and barbers first reported the news, and about two years after the first rumors swirled that the Xavier coach was eventually headed to his wife's hometown of Louisville.
"Did you guys know my wife is from Louisville?" a sarcastic Mack asked at his introductory news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Added UofL interim president Dr. Greg Postel: "I want to personally welcome Chris Mack and his family to the University of Louisville. And to Christi Mack, a graduate of Holy Cross High School, I want to add, 'Welcome home.'"
Mack is just the third head coach of the Cardinals since Denny Crum took the job in 1971.
"This is an awesome and exciting day for me and my family," Mack said. "Standing here before you, representing a school that's had two permanent head coaches since 1971, I don't take that lightly."
Mack acknowledged the legendary coach Crum, seated in the crowd, and entertained the mixed group of media and UofL insiders with a tale about his early days as a graduate assistant at Xavier when the Musketeers beat a Crum-coached Cards team in 1999. He also spoke highly of Rick Pitino and called the former UofL coach one of the best ever.
"And I would be remiss if I didn't recognize David Padgett," Mack said, carefully referencing last September's FBI scandal that led to Pitino's firing, leaving Padgett as interim coach. "To keep this group together -- and maybe they didn't experience the results they wanted to, but he did it with class, and he did it with integrity, and he did it by putting players first."
Following Postel's opening remarks, newly-minted athletic director Vince Tyra looked ahead with glowing praise of Mack.
"Welcome to the future of Louisville Cardinal basketball," Tyra said. "Today is a new day for us, and a brighter day."
Mack met with his new UofL players shortly before Wednesday's news conference, emphasizing that the future of the program is more in his players' hands than his own. The charismatic 48-year-old also urged Cards fans to support the team as it transitions to a new regime.
That regime will include Mike Pegues, an assistant under Mack at Xavier, but the rest of the staff has not been determined.
Mack is the winningest coach in Xavier history, having won 212 games in nine seasons there.
Mack starred at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, played for two years at Evansville when the Purple Aces ran a strong program under Jim Crews, but transferred back home and played his final two years of college basketball at Xavier. He captained the 1991-92 team in his senior year.
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