Padgett, Louisville thinking only about present for program

Louisville head coach David Padgett watches his team play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

David Padgett’s audition to become the permanent men’s basketball coach at Louisville continues as the Cardinals prepare for the NIT.

Louisville’s interim athletic director Vince Tyra reiterated his plan to wait until after the season before the school decides on naming a permanent coach.

”We’ve been clear all along we’re going to wait until the season wraps up, and then we’ll talk about it,” Tyra said Monday. ”You try to think about at any position you fill, what are the key factors you want out of that. I don’t want to create any more distraction than what he has.”

Padgett, 33, was elevated to interim coach last fall from second-year Cardinals assistant to replace Hall of Famer Rick Pitino in the wake of the school’s involvement in a federal corruption investigation of college basketball. The former Louisville player’s season-long approach has been maintaining continuity and success for Cardinal players and the program rather than worry about his future.

”If I focus on something that concerns me, that’s taking away from effort and energy I need to put into this team,” said Padgett, whose one-year contract for $800,000 plus incentives runs through September. ”I haven’t done it all year and I’m certainly not going to start now.”

Padgett’s main focus is getting the Cardinals (20-13) past their disappointment of failing to earn an NCAA Tournament bid and prepare for Tuesday night’s appearance in the NIT against Northern Kentucky (22-9).

The Courier Journal reported Monday that Louisville players had initially voted before the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament against playing in the NIT if they didn’t receive an NCAA bid. Neither Padgett, Tyra nor senior forward Anas Mahmoud would confirm if a vote ever happened but all acknowledged there were discussions about the Cardinals’ options Sunday night if they were left out of the 68-team tournament field.

Tyra conceded that players have been through a lot emotionally with Pitino’s preseason dismissal and being stripped of the 2013 NCAA championship last month as part of NCAA sanctions for an escort scandal. Not receiving an NCAA bid was another blow for the Cardinals, but Mahmoud said they’re focusing on trying to win another tournament, albeit one with a lower profile than the Big Dance.

”We realized that playing and participating and actually putting the effort into doing what we need to do is the best decision,” he said.

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