Rick Pitino agrees to extension
Rick Pitino has agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep him pacing the Louisville sideline through the 2022 season, the university announced Tuesday.
Pitino is in his 11th season at Louisville and has compiled a 274-106 record at the school. The Cardinals, coming off a surprise Final Four run, are ranked second in the AP preseason poll.
His $3.9 million base salary remains the same, but he will earn a $600,000 retention bonus every other year from 2014 to 2022.
The deal includes incentives for being chosen The Associated Press national coach of the year ($100,000) and winning the Big East Conference regular-season title ($50,000).
The announcement comes only a day after the personnel committee of the university's athletic association said it had given athletic director Tom Jurich permission to negotiate the deal, a formality that paved the way for the extension.
"He's a young guy, I've said it many times, he might be 60 but he's going on 35, maybe even younger than that," Jurich said. "He's got an incredible amount of energy, and he's worked extremely hard. We just love the direction this program is going. I'd really like to see him continue on as long as he possibly can."
Jurich has been after Pitino for some time to extend his deal, but the coach initially balked.
"Tom said to me, 'You have three years left and I'd like to extend you until you're 70,' " Pitino told ESPN.com. "I said can we make it until I'm 69? It just sounds better. But he said 70 or nothing."
Just a year ago, Pitino said he wouldn't go beyond his original deal, which was set to expire in 2017. But that was before the Cardinals won the Big East tournament, went to the Final Four and started talking with other basketball friends who had made the decision to retire and regretted it.
Only six months ago, longtime friend and former NBA coach Jim O'Brien extolled the virtues of retirement to Pitino, telling him that "basketball seemed trite'' since he walked away after being fired by the Indiana Pacers in January 2011.
In August this year, O'Brien agreed to become an assistant on the Dallas Mavericks' staff.
"I said, what gives?" Pitino said. "He said he was getting bored and I thought, this is like somebody is telling me something. I just enjoy it so much. I already lost my best friend in 9-11. This would be like losing my other best friend. Basketball has consumed me since the age of 7 or 8. I don't know what I would do without it.''
Pitino is 629-234 in his 27-year coaching career.Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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