LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville men's basketball head coach Chris Mack has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2021-22 season, the university announced Friday.
The suspension is in relation to the extortion attempt by ex-Cardinals assistant coach Dino Gaudio this past March. While Louisville concluded that Mack was indeed a victim of Gaudio's extortion attempt, and that suspension is unrelated to the attempt itself, Mack "failed to follow University guidelines, policies, and procedures in handling the matter".
"We have high expectations for all of our staff members and coaches and we hold people accountable for their actions,” athletic director Vince Tyra said in a statement. “While we have made great strides over the last four years in changing the culture in our Department of Athletics, we cannot afford to have any setbacks, no matter how big or small, in our pursuits."
During a Mar. 17 visit with Mack, after being informed that he would not have his contract renewed, Gaudio threatened to expose recruiting violations to the media if he did not receive a lump sum of 17 months salary. The violations in question were the use of graduate assistants in practice, and the impermissible production of recruiting videos.
According to Gaudio's sentencing memorandum, Mack is alleged to have agreed to pay the 17 month's salary "either through the University of Louisville or personally, if necessary", and that Mack had taped the meeting. Gaudio attempted to meet with Mack a day later on Mar. 18, but was denied, and Louisville self-reported the violations later that day.
The memorandum also alleged that Gaudio and Mack had "profound differences about how to manage COVID in order to keep everyone healthy", and that Mack conducted workouts that "may have been in violation of NCAA COVID protocols".
Gaudio was charged by the U.S. Attorney in May with "interstate communication with intent to extort," a felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. He pleaded guilty in June, and was sentenced to one year of probation and a $10,000 fine hours after Mack's suspension was announced.
“I regret that any of my unintentional actions or failures to follow University guidelines have brought unnecessary attention to our outstanding athletics programs and University," Mack said in a statement. "I understand that I could have handled matters differently and therefore I accept this suspension.
"While it will kill me to be away from our basketball family in November, I will do everything possible to set them up for success before and after my time away, and I am fully confident that our coaches, staff and student-athletes will rise to the occasion.”
The suspension lasts from Nov. 8th through Nov. 27th, and includes Louisville's trip to the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship in Nassau, Bahamas. Mack will be prohibited from having any contact with the coaching staff or players, and will forfeit approximately $221,000.
(Photo of Chris Mack: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
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