Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has been fired, with basketball coach Rick Pitino expected to join him, according to reports and sources directly to SB Nation. The news comes after the FBI announced the basketball program as part of a bombshell corruption scandal.
On paper, this looks like primarily an athletic administration and basketball issue, but this could have a direct affect on Louisville football, too.
It all revolves around Jurich serving as the Cardinals’ AD while Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is still employed by the school.
In January 2014, when the school hired Petrino and released his contract specifications, the coach’s buyout was set at $10 million. That's how much the school would have been owed if Petrino left before June 30, 2017.
Since then, that buyout has dropped to $8.5 million until 2018, then to $7 million in 2019, then $5 million. His buyout clause stayed the same after the coach’s new seven-year contract was announced in April 2016.
The most interesting clause could make Petrino a lot more intriguing to schools making coaching changes in the near future: With Jurich leaving the school, Petrino’s buyout is cut in half. That means right now, Petrino’s buyout is $4.25 million, which is a heck of a lot more enticing for any school that might hope to pry him away than an $8.5 million fee would’ve been.
Would Petrino leave Louisville again?
It’s too early to speculate, but it is fair to note he left the Cardinals shortly after a contract extension in 2006, then left two other jobs in dubious fashion before returning.
A bunch of schools with coaches on hot seats, such as Tennessee and Texas A&M, come to mind as being potentially interested in Petrino soon. When SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey asked one SEC assistant coach about Petrino’s buyout reduction, the coach responded with “gig ’em,” an A&M cheer.
Louisville wasn’t named explicitly or charged in the FBI’s sweeping investigation on wide-spread corruption within college basketball, but it’s easy to identify the Cardinals as “University-6” in the indictment from the Department of Justice. The program allegedly worked with Adidas to send $100,000 to an unnamed recruit for his commitment to the program. That recruit appears to be McDonald’s All-American shooting guard Brian Bowen.
The report also details Louisville was working on securing a payment for a future recruit. An unnamed Louisville coach is recorded saying “we gotta be very low key” while noting the program was already in trouble with the NCAA.