Louisville Extends Pitino's Deal To 2017
FanHouse first reported Pitino's extension on Tuesday. The new deal was formally approved by the Personal Committee of the school's Athletics Association on Wednesday.
"Rick has made a dramatic impact on our university and community over the last nine years," UL Vice President and athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. "He clearly provided the impetus for the new arena [that opens next season], because without our Final Four run in 2005, it would have never been a discussion point.
"He truly loves this university, this community and this state and wants to remain here. I'm so impressed with how he interacts with our student-athletes on and off the court, as well as how he influences their lives after basketball. I'm delighted that Rick will continue to guide our program fro many years to come."
Pitino's previous deal expired in 2013. Louisville gave Pitino the extension to reward him for his success at the school and also to squelch what have become almost annual rumors that Pitino is leaving UL for an NBA job.
In 2007, Pitino signed a three-year extension at Louisville through 2013. That deal increased Pitino's annual salary to $2.25 million a season in 2007 and increased it to $2.5 million a year in 2013. It also included "loyalty bonuses" of $3.6 million, which he's scheduled to receive this year, and also will receive in 2013 if he's still at Louisville.
In the past year, Pitino's name has been linked in media reports to the NBA's New Jersey Nets and Sacramento Kings as well to the recent opening at St. John's.
"Every job that comes opens and they want to hire the best coach, his name always comes up," Louisville senior associate athletic director Kenny Klein said.
When Norm Roberts was fired two weeks ago at St. John's, The New York Post reported Pitino was a possibility. In February, the New York Daily News reported Pitino, a 2006 inductee into the New York City Hall of Fame, was interested in coaching the New Jersey Nets.
Pitino vehemently denied the Daily News' report and has said his only contact with another school was Providence two years ago.
"I can't keep talking about rumors and untruths," Pitino said in February. "In the past nine years, I've never had a conversation with a professional team. I had one conversation with a college team [Providence]."
Pitino talked to Providence officials, with Louisville's knowledge, at the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio. Pitino has strong ties to Providence. In 1987, Pitino coached Providence to the Final Four, the same year his 6-month-old son, Daniel, died and was buried in Rhode Island.
"So what do you do when you're tired and worn out?" Pitino said in February about the Daily News report. "You don't go to the Caribbean, you don't go to the Bahamas. You take the New Jersey Nets' job where they've won four games.
"Just think of the rationale behind the whole thing. If you're going to get rejuvenated you don't take over the Nets."
The Cardinals (20-13) finished this season tied for fifth in the Big East. They earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, but lost to California in the opening round.
In nine seasons at Louisville, Pitino has taken the Cardinals to seven NCAA tournaments, reaching the 2005 Final Four and the Elite Eight in 2008 and 2009. He won the 1996 national title at Kentucky and is the only coach to take three different schools to the Final Four.
Pitino, who also was head coach with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, is 572-210 in 24 seasons as a head coach at Boston, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville.
This was the final year for Louisville to play in historic Freedom Hall. Next season, UL moves to a state-of-the-art $249 million arena in downtown Louisville, a facility Pitino has called "the finest in the nation."
Contact FanHouse senior writer Brett McMurphy at email@example.com or on Twitter @BrettmcmurphY