CINCINNATI -- Xavier basketball coach Chris Mack agreed to meet with University of Louisville officials this weekend about their coaching vacancy, the Courier-Journal reported Thursday.
Mack is considered Louisville's top choice to restore the once-vaunted program from the sex and payoff scandals that befell former coach Rick Pitino and cast a dark cloud over the university.
Updated story on Louisville officials' scheduled meeting with Xavier coach Chris Mack: https://t.co/uKHYn6WNSM
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) March 22, 2018
Sportscaster Dick Vitale said Saturday "key sources" told him Louisville would make Vince Tyra its athletic director -- as the Courier-Journal had already reported two days earlier -- and that Mack would shortly follow:
Key sources tell me Louisville will name Vince Tyra AD on Monday. Shortly after, look for Chris Mack to be named @LouisvilleMBB head coach. He would be a super hire who brings a winner’s mentality. @SpikeLee @jeffgreer_cj @TimSullivan714
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 24, 2018
Mack, 48, is the winningest coach in Xavier basketball history and has been courted by big-name programs in the past. But the Cincinnati native and Xavier graduate has stayed true to his roots.
However, Louisville has some obvious advantages over Xavier in spite of its tattered reputation. Mack would be assured a lot more money and the opportunity to coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference, considered the best basketball conference.
How much more money?
With a base salary of $1.6 million, Mack was only the 55th highest paid coach in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field this year, according to USA Today.
Pitino's last deal, extended in 2015, called for an average base salary of $5.1 million through the 2025-26 season. He also made $2.7 million in outside income in 2015.
Mack probably wouldn't get Pitino money, but Louisville obviously has more to spend than Xavier.
Think of it this way: the Yum Center holds twice as many fans (22,090) as the Cintas Center (10,250).
Mack may also feel the challenge of restoring Louisville to its national glory. The Cardinals have won three NCAA championships (1980, 1986, 2013), but they have been ordered to vacate the most recent title following findings that a former Louisville director of basketball arranged sex acts for prospects, student-athletes and others, and did not cooperate with an NCAA investigation.
Mack's Musketeers have reached three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in nine years and won the Big East regular-season championship this year, finishing third in the Associated Press poll. But Xavier, which earned its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, is still smarting from being ousted by No. 9 Florida State 75-70 in the second round last Sunday.
Louisville, meanwhile, was ousted from the NIT by Mississippi State Monday and promptly announced it would not retain interim coach David Padgett. The Cardinals (22-14) went 9-9 in ACC play but endured several disappointing losses down the stretch that kept them out of the NCAA Tournament.
Padgett, a former Cardinals player, was brought in to bring calm amid turmoil and upheaval after the school placed Pitino on unpaid administrative leave following its acknowledgement that it was being investigated in a federal corruption probe of college basketball.
Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were later fired in October after an FBI investigation found that an Adidas executive paid the family of Cardinals recruit Brian Bowen to attend the university. Pitino has repeatedly said that he had no knowledge of any payment to a recruit's family.