Associate head coach Kenny Payne confirmed what we believed to be true: The Louisville Cardinals showed interest in him when looking for Rick Pitino’s replacement.
Payne spoke with Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra about the job, but said that he believes that the hiring of Chris Mack was pretty much already done.
“We spoke,” Payne said, according to Jon Hale of the Louisville Courier Journal. “Have a lot of respect for him, wish him well. He made a decision on the coach he wanted. I think that was pretty much done beforehand. No hard feelings at all. Louisville is a great university. It’s my university where I went to school, and I wish them well. The state needs Louisville to be good.”
It was suspected that the Cardinals’ athletic department would show interest in Payne, as he was a former Louisville basketball star. Payne played at Louisville from 1985-1989, and averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds his senior year.
Louisville of course hired Mack instead, who was formerly the head coach at Xavier. It’s a good thing for Kentucky that Louisville picked Mack. Payne has been a crucial part of John Calipari’s staff, and coaches the Wildcats in situations like the Bahamas trip, where Calipari watches from the stands (or when Calipari gets ejected).
Payne appears to have a bright future ahead of him as a head coach when the right opportunity arises. For now, it won’t be as a rival of Kentucky.