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‘You’re Going to F---ing Pay Me’: Inside Dino Gaudio’s Explosive Conversation With Chris Mack

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Former Louisville men’s basketball assistant coach Dino Gaudio was sentenced Friday to one year of probation for extortion, five months after he threatened his boss, head coach Chris Mack. Mack recorded the conversation, in which Gaudio threatened him after being told he was being fired, and turned it over to school administrators. The recording then was given to law enforcement. Gaudio was charged in May and entered a guilty plea in June. Mack received a six-game suspension on Friday for failing to follow university policies in his handling of the matter.

The audio recording of Gaudio’s threats to Mack was heard by Sports Illustrated.

The meeting took place in Mack’s office in March, after Louisville was left out of the men's NCAA tournament field and Mack decided to make staff changes. Mack told Sports Illustrated that Gaudio initially stormed out of his office after being told he was being let go, then returned. “Sensing an explosive situation was imminent, I made the decision to protect myself” by recording the subsequent discussion, Mack tells SI. “I wanted to make sure there was no confusion about this hostile situation.” Mack declined further comment.

FORDE: Mack Caught in Crosshairs of Ongoing Scandal Fallout

A transcript of the meeting paints a picture of an outraged Gaudio informing Mack that he would go public with NCAA violations committed by the program—graduate assistants practicing with the team and recruiting videos that the school produced for prospects. The violations are relatively minor, but they occurred within the context of Louisville’s ongoing NCAA infractions case pertaining to the Southern District of New York investigation of corruption in college basketball. The latest alleged violations increase the potential jeopardy of enhanced sanctions.

Dino Gaudio and Chris Mack

The transcript of the roughly 10-minute conversation between Gaudio and Mack from last March follows:

Dino Gaudio: You’re not renewing my contract, and you’re paying me for a year and a half, alright? You’re paying me for a year and a half. Here’s why.

Last time this happened to me, the last time this happened to me, I took the high road. I took the high road. I didn’t say anything, said all the good things, that s--- … affected my family, my career, my livelihood—that ain’t happening again. That ain’t happening again. See, let me show you something. You’re going to think long and hard about this one, dude. You’re going to be thinking long and hard about this one.

See, it says in my contract here, if there’s anything about NCAA violations, I’m supposed to talk to [Louisville compliance director] John Carns, I’m supposed to talk to [athletic director] Vince Tyra, I’m supposed to talk to all those guys. And you know what? I f---ing will. I f---ing will.

Those GAs all practicing with us? Illegal, illegal. I’ve got documentation from when she called me in the summer, when we were emailing each other and texting each other—I’m talking about [women’s basketball coach] Jeff Walz — when Christine, whatever her name was [Herring], came in here and said, ‘Those guys working guys out in the summer, they can’t do that; that’s illegal.’

All that s---, those 30 for 30s [recruiting videos] I have? That s---’s f---ing illegal. That s---’s f---ing illegal.

Chris Mack: Why didn’t you say anything?

DG: Now you tell me you’re not renewing my contract?

CM: Why didn’t you say anything?

DG: I don’t want to be here. So you know what you’re doing? You’re going to f---ing pay me. Between me and you, dude, you can go tell Vince ‘Hey Vince’—I don’t care what the f--- you tell him—‘Vince, Dino’s my guy. I’m going to pay him for his year and a half. He can retire at 66. I’m going to take care of him.’ That’s what we can do. And you know what? That’s what we’re going to do. Or else I’m going to f---ing John Carns, I’m going to f---ing [Louisville Courier-Journal columnist] Tim Sullivan. I’m going to [Jay] Bilas, [Dick] Vitale, [Fran] Fraschilla—all those f---ing guys. That’s the way this is going to f---ing go down, dude. That’s the way this is going to f---ing go down.

I f---ing helped you get [a former Louisville player]. You didn’t know who f---ing [the player] was until I came back and Pat [Kelsey] told me. I helped you with frickin’ [two other players]—are you f----ing s----ing me?

CM: I know, Dino.

DG: You’re right, this is a hard conversation. You’re right. And you know what? You better think about it. You better think long and hard about it. I don’t want to f---ing be here now—you said that to me.

CM: I know. I know.

DG: So here’s what you’re going to do. This stays right here between me and you for about, mmm, 24 hours. You go tell that f---ing toad over there, Vince Tyra, ‘Dino’s my guy; I gotta take care of him. I want to pay him for a year.’ O.K.? Then none of this s--- f---ing happens. Got it?

CM: Dino.

DG: Got it?

CM: Yeah, I got it. Can we talk?

DG: That’s all I got to say.

CM: Dino, Dino, can we talk?

DG: Are you f---ing s----ing me? After all the s--- I did for you? Are you f---ing s----ing me?

CM: Can we talk? I don’t want to f--- your livelihood up, bro.

DG: Take your mask off; I can’t hear you.

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CM: I’m sorry. I don’t want to f--- your livelihood up, Dino.

DG: You did, man. You are.

CM: I’m not.

DG: Yeah you are.

CM: No, I’m not. No, I’m not. I don’t want to do that to you, Dino, I don’t. I love you, man. I know you don’t believe me. I love you. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m not trying to f--- your livelihood up. Dude, I’ll take it out of my own personal money.

DG: Whatever you gotta do. Whatever you gotta do.

CM: I feel like I owe you that. I don’t f---ing like—I’m not excited about this.

DG: Whatever you gotta do. Whatever you gotta do. It’s f---ing sad. F---ing sad. And the meeting we had after that Sunday night thing [when Louisville was left out of the tournament], that meeting—you say you don’t talk to the kids after the game when you’re hot and that stuff. If we play those four home games [that were canceled due to COVID-19], we probably win three of them and now we have 11 wins in the ACC. Complete overreaction. Complete overreaction.

CM: What do you mean?

DG: Like, ‘This kid we gotta get rid of, that kid we gotta get rid of, we gotta get rid of that kid.’ Whatever you gotta do, man. You find out, you let me know.

CM: Let me ask you. Let me ask you because, like, I gotta know. You want to be paid until when?

DG: I can retire at 66 and six months. I’ll show you, you can look it up.

CM: I believe you, man.

DG: You can pay me until Sept. 30 of not next year, but the year after. That’s when I can retire and get social security. My birthday is March 30, 1957. You can look it up. That’s a year and a half of salary. That’s a year and a half. A year and a half of salary. It’s not this September, it’s the September after.

CM: So September—September of 2022.

DG: Right. Right. September of—this is ’21, yes, Sept. 30 of ’22. You pay me then, I’m fine. You pay me then, I’m fine. [Pause.] Wow. You let me know, too, in the next 24 hours. You call your boy down the street there and you let me know.

CM: Here’s the thing—sit down. I mean, can you sit down? Like, I’m not trying to f--- your family up. I’m not trying to f--- your money up. Like, I don’t care what he says in regard to that. I’ll do that. I love you. I know you don’t believe that. I’ve got to go in a different direction with a lot of the staff—with a lot of the staff. I think you’re one of the hardest—I’m not going to just f---ing blow smoke up your ass. I’ve got to go in a different direction. This is my livelihood or my ability to keep going. I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me. I also know how loyal you’ve been. That’s why this is f---ing hard for me. But I’m not here to f--- you up financially. I’m not trying to throw you off the street. I’ll do whatever I have—if I’ve got to take it out of my own f---ing money.

DG: Well, you let me know.

CM: I just have. I just have.

DG: All right. We’re talking September of ’22. That’s what I want to be paid through, then I can retire and get my social security. I have no idea what you’re looking at. It’s just a complete overreaction. I don’t know.… I mean, I don’t know what you’re looking at in terms of recruiting or on-court coaching. Our defense is pretty good, I sort of oversee our defense. Our offensive rebounding is pretty good, I sort of oversee our offensive rebounding. Whatever you’re looking for, man, just make sure you take care of me. And I want it in writing.

CM: What I’m looking for is just better chemistry, man. Better chemistry. I think you’re a f---ing tremendous coach. I don’t know if anybody works harder than you, prepares, but like, I want a better chemistry on our staff. That’s what I want.

DG: That’s fine. Put it in writing. Tomorrow, I’ll be here at noon. Tell me how you’re paying me. That’s the s--- that’s going to happen or else this is happening. I laid down the first time. I’m not laying down the next time. I am not.

CM: I’m not worried about that. I know you are. I give you my word, which you may not think means anything, but that’s going to happen. But, like, what assurances do I have?

DG: I give you my word. You write me the check, or you have them, and you say, ‘I will not take any action.’ You know what I mean? You know, your dad is an attorney, and whatever the caveat is, I’m happy to sign it. I’m happy to sign it.

CM: If you feel like these things are illegal, like, do you think I want to do something illegal? I’m not trying to do anything illegal, Dino.

DG: Yeah, but they are illegal. The 30 for 30s …

CM: Those are illegal?

DG: Yeah, the GAs practicing—um, um, um, all that s---’s illegal. All that s---’s illegal. It is. It’s all f---ing illegal. … It’s all illegal. And like I said, this stuff can stay right here. Put something in writing for me tomorrow, man.

CM: I will.

DG: Put something in writing.