David Padgett took questions from the media after being named the interim head coach of the UofL men’s basketball team. | Photo by Joe Sonka

The University of Louisville named current assistant coach David Padgett to take over as the interim head coach of the men’s basketball program Friday afternoon, two days after Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino was placed on administrative leave due to his program being ensnared by a FBI sting involving the bribing of recruits.

Padgett played for the Louisville Cardinals and graduated in 2008, then became UofL’s director of basketball operations in 2014, before being hired as an assistant coach in 2016. He now becomes the first head coach of the men’s basketball team not named Denny Crum or Rick Pitino in 47 years.

Announcing the hire at another packed press conference, interim UofL President Greg Postel said that Padgett was a natural fit for the position due to “his familiarity with the players and the current system, combined with his character and work ethic,” saying that he expected a successful season with him running the team.

David Padgett took the podium after being named interim head coach of the UofL men’s basketball team. | Photo by Joe Sonka

Padgett opened his remarks by saying, “It’s been a dark week at UofL,” which has been “very trying for a lot of people at the university, the city, this program, the athletics department.” But he said that he accepted the position because of his commitment to the players, who he says are very talented and committed and ready to have a successful season.

“We’re getting through it, we’re putting our head down and going back to work,” said Padgett. “And we look forward to moving forward and getting on with the basketball season and continuing to have some great success in the athletics department.”

Asked if he is going to retain all of the staff of the basketball program — considering that the federal indictment singled out “Coach-1” from UofL  as being deeply involved in the bribing of more than one recruit — Padgett said Postel would have to first hire an interim athletics director to decide whether any disciplinary action is taken with assistants. With the first team practice coming up on Sunday, he said, “We might be a little shorthanded for a while, but that’s just something we have to figure out when the new AD comes in.”

Asked if he could assure everyone that he will not be named in the federal investigation into the bribery of recruits, Padgett said he could do so for himself, “but I can’t get into too much details” about the federal investigation, adding that, “I don’t think Dr. Postel would have the confidence to put me in this position if he was worried about anything.”

Asked if he plans on retaining assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair — who media reports have speculated as being implicated in the FBI probe — Padgett said that would be up to the interim athletics director next week.

Postel said that Johnson and Fair are still UofL employees and have “not yet” been put on administrative leave. Asked by IL if they will be participating in practice on Sunday, Postel said, “I don’t believe so, but I’ll have to talk with Coach Padgett tomorrow about how that will be handled.”

Asked if he was comfortable with UofL’s relationship with Adidas — considering the company’s lucrative financial deal with the university and its top executive being implicated in bribing a UofL recruit — Postel said, “I don’t know enough about it to know whether or I’m comfortable with it or not.” He added that he would be closely examining that relationship in the future, saying, “If there are things about it that we don’t like, we’re not going to be in that deal.”

As for whether the Adidas money is tainted, Postel answered, “We don’t know yet.”

Asked if he could assure fans that he had no knowledge of anything that was going on with Adidas and the bribing of recruits, Padgett again said that, “If Dr. Postel had any concern about that whatsoever, I don’t feel like I’d be standing here.”

“That whole process is just going to have to work itself out,” said Padgett. “Someone may need to talk with me at one point, but we’ve just got to take it one day at a time.”

Asked if he was going to move into Pitino’s office, Padgett said he’d be afraid to, adding, “They changed the locks the other day, so nobody can get in there right now anyway.”

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]