Say this for Louisville basketball: There is never a dull moment in the program.
That's because on Friday, the school announced that head coach Chris Mack has been suspended for six games, without pay, for failing to follow university of guidelines.
It all stems from the Dino Gaudio/extortion deal from a few weeks ago.
For those who need a quick reminder, we found out that after the season - one in which Louisville was the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament - Mack decided to shake up the entire program, starting with his staff. Two coaches were out, including Gaudio, a coach who he had known for 30 years, and who literally recruited him as a player back in the early 1990's.
Gaudio, unhappy with the news, threatened to reveal that the school had broken NCAA rules, if Mack didn't pay him out the final year of his contract. Just one problem: Mack was recording the conversation and brought it to his superiors. Which is when Gaudio was hit with extortion charges.
Got all that? Good, because it brings us today.
While it's clear that the school was - at least in theory - sympathetic to the extortion charges, they did still have to punish Mack for allegedly breaking those NCAA rules Gaudio mentioned, rules that are currently being investigated by the school and NCAA. In Mack's defense, Gaudio's allegations were minimal, including the illegal use of managers in practice and some recruiting videos that crossed the rules of what's allowable under NCAA jurisdiction.
So while the rules violations again, aren't major, relative to what has happened in the past at Louisville, it does appear that in fact, violations were committed and the school is punishing Mack.
Here is part of a release from the university:
“As I have said since the beginning of my tenure, we have high expectations for all of our staff members and coaches and we hold people accountable for their actions,” U of L Vice President/Director of Athletics Vince Tyra said in a statement. “While we have made great strides over the last four years in changing the culture in our Department of Athletics, we cannot afford to have any setbacks, no matter how big or small, in our pursuits. I am confident that Coach Mack now understands the impact of his actions. We all have confidence in him moving forward. I am grateful for the partnership and support of President Bendapudi in this matter.”
While the violations are minor, it is still a black eye for Mack, a coach who arrived with much fan-fare - I'll readily admit, I loved the hire - but who is also quickly losing support within the fan-base. The latest came this season, when the Cardinals went 13-7 and were the first team left out of the tournament.
So while it's probably unfair to say that Mack is "on the hot seat" the pressure is definitely ratchetting up.
Oh, and to add insult to injury: Part of Mack's suspension comes while Louisville is down playing in the Bahamas in November.
Talk about kicking a man while he's down, huh?
If you want to hear more about the Mack/Gaudio bruhaha, I discussed it on a recent Aaron Torres Podcast. You can listen below.