Earlier this week, Pitino sought to downplay the captaincy change to The Courier-Journal.
"Absolutely no big deal," he said in a message to The Courier-Journal. "Totally nothing. He is still the leader of our team."
Harrell, who decided against entering the NBA draft after his sophomore season, is averaging 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds this season. He was named a preseason All-American.
The No. 10 Cardinals are 15-3 and play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
- Stanley Kay