Friday, March 16, 2001

Pitino to decide on U of L next week

UK fans' reaction causing coach's 'reservations'

The Courier-Journal

        LOUISVILLE — Rick Pitino said Thursday he will accept or reject the University of Louisville men's basketball coaching job by the middle of next week, meeting a timetable athletic director Tom Jurich has requested.

        Pitino said he has not made a decision, however. One day after his visit to the Louisville campus and to look at real estate, Pitino said “there is still a small part of me that has some reservations because of the reaction of the Kentucky fans.”

        The former University of Kentucky and Boston Celtics coach will work the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional in Dayton as an analyst for CBS Sports, then return Sunday to his Boston home to decide with his family whether he will succeed retired Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum at Louisville or look elsewhere.

        “This is going to be my last move, and I want to go into it 100 percent feeling good about it,” Pitino said. “You always wish that was the way it was. ...

        “You know that in any job there are always going to be some ups and downs, but usually those are a little way down the road. You want to go into any new job totally upbeat and feeling that everybody is positive and 100 percent behind you and excited about it. If the situation was that way, it would be a very easy decision to make.

        “I'm still a little disappoint ed in the reaction of a small number of Kentucky fans.”

        Pitino said talk of the Cardinals moving into a downtown arena that could be built if the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies relocate to Louisville will play no part in his decision.

        “It's a great job with or without the new arena,” he said. “I try to make my decisions based on people and potential, and Louisville has both of those things. You have people in Louisville like Wade Houston, Junior Bridgeman and Darrell Griffith. Those people are as good as it gets.”

        Pitino said he'll discuss the situation with his family, “but I have to decide. It has to be my decision.”

        Other schools also are waiting to talk to Pitino, the most prominent being Michigan. But he said other schools will have to wait until he decides whether to take the Louisville job.

        “I'm not even going to think about Michigan until I make the decision about Louisville,” Pitino said. “Louisville has been great and very patient about this, and I need to give them an answer by the middle of next week,” Pitino said. “Tom really wants to know right away.”

        Jurich could not be reached for comment.

        Pitino ruled out a move to South Carolina, which bought out the contract of Eddie Fogler this week.

        “I have no interest in any SEC school at all,” he said. “There you would be competing in the same conference against Kentucky and could play them three times a year. I have no interest in doing that.”

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