Louisville fires coach Kenny Payne after going 12-52 in two seasons

Wed, Mar 13, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Louisville fires coach Kenny Payne after going 12-52 in two seasons

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville fired coach Kenny Payne on Wednesday after going 12-52 in two seasons that marked the worst consecutive finishes in the storied program's history.

The move came a day after the Cardinals' 94-85 first-round loss to North Carolina State in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Athletic director Josh Heird thanked Payne in a statement and wished him and his family well, saying Payne would always be a valued member of the Louisville family.

"When we brought Kenny home in 2022, no one had a stronger belief than me in his potential success," Heird said, "but it's become clear that a change is needed to help this program achieve what is expected and attainable. While it is always difficult to make a coaching transition, this is the right one for our program."

Payne, 57, is set to receive an $8 million buyout under terms of a six-year contract through 2028. That deal paid a base annual salary of $3.35 million plus incentives.

Louisville's eighth consecutive defeat capped an 8-24 season (3-17 ACC) that was expected to begin a climb back after going 4-28 last season. The loss total was a program record. Louisville's January win at Miami was its lone ACC triumph in two seasons under the homegrown Payne, who scored 1,083 points from 1985-89 and won the 1986 NCAA national championship while playing under Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum.

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Speculation now shifts to Payne's successor, who is expected to be more experienced and with a higher profile than Payne. Possible candidates include Baylor's Scott Drew, who guided the Bears to the national championship in 2021, Florida Atlantic's Dusty May and Indiana State's Josh Schertz.

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