After weeks of speculation, Louisville has officially announced the hiring of former Cardinals player Kenny Payne as the new head men’s basketball coach. Payne spent the last two years with the New York Knicks and before that worked at rival Kentucky for ten seasons.
“After a thorough national search during which we sat down with a number of expectational coaches, it was clear that Kenny Payne was what we need,” said Interim AD Josh Heird. “His basketball knowledge, his passion for his student-athletes, his vision for our program and his understanding of what Louisville Basketball means to our city and to our institution, are evident. I am thrilled to welcome Kenny and Michelle, and their children, Alexis and Zan, to the University of Louisville.”
Payne played for Denny Crum at UL in the 1980s and was a member of the Cardinals’ 1986 National Championship team. He went on to play four seasons in the NBA and later began his coaching career at Oregon in 2004. After five seasons working under Ernie Kent, he joined John Calipari‘s staff at Kentucky in 2010 and spent the next ten years in Lexington (six as associate head coach). He was a part of four Final Fours at UK, including the 2012 National Championship run.
“While there are challenges, I see opportunities, and if we are united and aligned, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish,” said Payne. “Our fans and community deserve a championship basketball program fueled by exceptional and high-character student-athletes, and it is my responsibility to deliver on that vision. I cannot wait to get started.”
credit to Louisville Athletics for the image