Cardinals assistant Willard takes medical leave of absence

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville says assistant coach Ralph Willard will take an indefinite medical leave of absence from the program to address an unspecified health issue.

Cardinals director of basketball operations David Padgett has been moved into an assistant coach's position to replace Willard, a 39-year veteran who rejoined Rick Pitino's staff in April. Willard guided Louisville against a Pitino-led Puerto Rican national team in August.

Willard expressed disappointment in a statement Monday, but Pitino said his concern is making sure Willard ''gets healthy and has a speedy recovery from some problems that need immediate attention.''

Padgett was a three-year Cardinals starter from 2005-08 and played professionally in Spain before serving three seasons as an IUPUI assistant. Pitino said Padgett ''knows the system as well as anyone here'' and expects a smooth transition.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.