2021-22 season getting off to a bad start for Chris Mack and his Louisville team (Mike DeZarn photo).

Chris Mack will pay dearly for Louisville basketball missteps

A friend of mine in the media told me about a year ago “all college coaches are on a huge ego trip.” It appears that University of Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack is on the top deck.

Dino Gaudio didn’t take kindly to getting fired and it wound up costing everybody (Mike DeZarn photo).

For his missteps in the Dino Gaudio mess, Mack received a six-game suspension by the University on Friday.

This makes President Neeli Bendapudi, Athletic Director Vince Tyra and Mack all look bad. It also makes one wonder if Tyra hired the right guy to clean up Cardinal basketball.

Mack should have known when he took the job that he had a short rope. I don’t understand not knowing that any missed steps would come under tougher scrutiny than a slap on the wrist. He is lucky the University didn’t hand him a pink slip.

I really wanted to give Mack and his staff the benefit of the doubt in getting the program back on track.

Last season the team didn’t even qualify for the pandemic plagued NCAA Tournament. With 68 teams invited to the tournament,  a team had to be not very good not to make the field. The Cardinals fell on their collective face during the stretch. It also didn’t help that Kentucky Athletic Director Dale Barnhart was chairman of the selection committee.

In Mack’s first season, UofL slipped into the tournament with a high seed but was ushered out in the first game by a Minnesota team coached by Richard Pitino. This isn’t all about wins and losses though. It’s about honesty and integrity. Mack should have gone about replacing his assistant coaches Gaudio and Luke Murray in a much different manner.

Mack’s ego wouldn’t let him. He did it his way. The wrong way. It failed.

The Louisville basketball program at one time was in at least the top 10 of college jobs. The program is falling and falling fast. I could only imagine what the NCAA is thinking about this mess. It certainly isn’t good.

On Monday, Bendapudi, Tyra and Mack will meet with some former players to discuss the program and some perceived, if not unique, shortcomings. Big heads all around.

I’d like to see the program rebound and get back to where it once was. Maybe an Elite Eight or Final Four appearance. I doubt that will happen under the current leadership.

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Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

One thought on “Chris Mack will pay dearly for Louisville basketball missteps

  • August 29, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Such a confounding situation.

    On the one hand I applaud Mack, (and Pitino before him), for exposing the extortion attempts. Exposing the extortion opens to view the embarrassing information the criminal is relying on as leverage. It indicates a strong degree of common sense to end the leverage, not to be mistaken as courage. Capitulating to the threat indicates an unawareness that it never goes away, forestalled but still dangling overhead. So, it doesn’t take courage or character to expose it. It takes a connection with reality. So, I applaud Mack’s (Pitino’s) connection to reality.

    Then there are the alleged infractions. Sometimes the rules don’t make sense to me. Putting students into practice sessions? Is that the charge? As I say I don’t understand the offense. But. If that is a rule, then, you DO NOT BEND IT! You DO NOT BREAK IT! If Mack really has broken NCAA rules and even if they don’t result in penalties it is time to hire a new Coach. As Mr. Peak states, there is zero room for error right now.

    Gaudio is such a disappointment. Not just because he actually thought that his brief employment merited his receiving a golden parachute to carry him to retirement. Not just because he went to extortion to get to easy street. Not just because he obviously had no personal investment in his thirty year relationship with his friend Chris which he would not surrender for a few pieces of silver. I am extremely disappointed that Mr. Gaudio did not do the job for which he was paid. He says he saw infractions. And he planned to never expose them. He said nothing at the time. At least he did not contact anyone who could resolve whether there was an infraction or who was willing and able to correct the misdeed. He was never going to say anything. He stowed away what he had as a bargaining chip? Or, he stowed it away because he was onboard with the methods and actions? I believe the latter. He took his paycheck while knowing, or believing, he was a partner in a crime. Crime, we now know, is no problem for him. Maybe he saw how others institutions and their Coaches behave and felt compelled to get an equal illicit advantage. Certainly that is how the games are played. The referees exist because the players can not call their own. The more I watch the games the more I believe the players are taught to bend the rules as much as possible without getting caught. If my perspective is accurate where does that come from? And, how is it not taught out of them by he time they reach college? Forgive my tangent there, it may have nothing to do with why Dino Gaudio was such a corrupt employee for U of L. He got a light sentence for extortion. Maybe now he can find a janitorial position to carry him to retirement.

    Six games without pay for failing to bring a third person into the room while informing employees their contracts would not be renewed. Two employees. Two offenses. Two violations of a directive given to Mack. Two times he intentionally defied his employers. Is six games enough? Add in his poor judgement in hiring unscrupulous associates. And still we need to know if he broke practice rules. I am liking Chris Mack as our Coach less and less.

    Maybe it is just a dirty game and you can never hire a Coach who can/will follow the rules? Maybe the rules are faulty? Too many and too restrictive? Maybe the game is just too big and the stakes so high people are compelled to cheat? Maybe the only way to have a clean game is to have no rules? Something is happening in the game and it’s peripherals that is making it less enjoyable. The days when it was just the winter sport are gone. Never to return? No doubt. So, I will watch when I wish, and I will continue to care about seeing good play and about watching players grow into good players. Those are the aspects of the game which I enjoy. More than the final score. More than the record. And, I suggest the entire sport would be better served if more people shared my goals for the game.

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