LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - UofL has named its successor to Rick Pitino following a far-reaching FBI investigation into bribery claims involving several high-profile college basketball programs.
David Padgett will lead the team through the upcoming season that begins with this weekend's first practice.
Padgett, who was a three-year starter for the Cardinals, became an assistant coach last season after serving two years as director of basketball operations. Before coming back to Louisville, Padgett had been an assistant coach at IUPUI.
A native of Reno, Nevada, Padgett was a McDonald's High School All-American and played for Big 12 powerhouse Kansas during his freshman year before transferring to Louisville.
As a Cardinal, Padgett is second in career field goal percentage, hitting 61.3 percent of his shots (332-542). In his senior year, Padgett was the second best ever at UofL with a .667 field goal percentage, and set a Big East Conference field goal percentage record for league games as a senior, hitting 68.3 percent of his shots in 18 games (86-of-126). The Cards advanced to the Elite Eight that year.
Padgett takes over the team two days after Pitino was placed on unpaid leave as a result of this week's FBI's bombshell investigation. Just as Padgett was wrapping up his comments, Pitino texted the following message to WAVE 3 News' Kent Taylor:
"I love David Padgett like my son," the Hall of Fame coach wrote. "He will be awesome for the players and the program. Selfless leader as a player and he will do the same as a coach."
UofL Interim President Dr. Greg Postel said an interim athletic director will be named early next week to replace Tom Jurich.
Jurich, who arrived in 1997, was asked to fire Pitino on Wednesday, a day after the FBI announced its allegations. When he refused, Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave. Minutes later, it was announced that Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave.
The suspensions were made instead of outright firings because the UofL board of trustees must gather for a full vote. Its next regularly scheduled meeting is Oct. 19, but an emergency meeting can be called for such an important matter.
Pitino had been coaching UofL since 2001. He led the Cards to three Final Fours and a national championship, and guided the team through moves to the Big East Conference and then the Atlantic Coast Conference. Along the way, however, Pitino found himself embroiled in two scandals, including the 2015 allegations by self-proclaimed escort queen that she arranged strippers for sex parties for basketball players and recruits. The fallout from that scandal is not yet complete, and could result in the forfeiture of the 2013 national championship.
Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport, a UofL assistant under Pitino while Padgett was a player, tweeted his congratulations to Padgett Friday afternoon.
Jurich had been regarded as one of the nation's top athletic directors, in large part for bolstering the school's athletic facilities and hiring coaches to lead many sports to national prominence, not just football and basketball.
Louisville opens the 2017-18 basketball season on October 30 against Kentucky Wesleyan at the KFC Yum! Center.