Chris Mack pulled into the Kueber Center Wednesday afternoon for the final time as the Louisville men’s basketball coach. There were plastic bins in his trunk and within a matter of hours, those bins would be filled, and the word “former” would officially be added to Mack’s title.
“I ain’t bitter at all,” the former Louisville coach said while wearing a Cincinnati Bengals hat outside the team’s practice facility. “I got my family, I got a great life, we’re good.”
Wednesday evening, Louisville’s Board of Trustees and the Athletic Association Board of Directors agreed to a separation agreement with Mack, ending his tenure as the Cardinal headman at just under four years.
As part of the agreement, Mack will receive a $4.8 million severance payment from the school. It will be paid out in $133,333.33 monthly increments beginning around Feb. 28 of this year and lasting until Jan. 31, 2025. In addition, Mack and his family will receive compensation for COBRA health insurance until June 2023.
Mack declined to discuss what his future plans may be on Wednesday — he did update his Twitter bio to say “Retired Coach,” although that is, perhaps, tongue-and-cheek — but if he were to take another job in the coming years, he would still receive the severance payment in full.
If Mack had been fired without cause, he would’ve been owed $12.75 million, per Louisville interim athletic director Josh Heird. And if Louisville had managed to fire him with cause, which may have happened once the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) ruled on Level II NCAA allegations, the school wouldn’t have owed the coach anything.
Louisville, however, didn’t want to wait for the NCAA ruling, instead preferring to begin the process of rebuilding Louisville’s basketball program now.
“On one hand, you have $12.75 million at stake if he was let go without cause,” Heird said Wednesday. “… On the flip side, you can consider it zero (dollars), but it’s not zero either. Who knows how long that’s gonna go as far as the NCAA case? I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to bet on the NCAA wrapping up anything quickly.”
The 7-page agreement between Mack and the school details his compensation, that he may not recruit or hire any U of L employee for the next 12 months, and that Mack has already disclosed everything to Louisville about previous violations.
The first section of the agreement states that Mack has disclosed “accurate and materially complete information concerning litigation to which he is or has been a party, as well as any previous violations, facts, occurrences, circumstances or states of affair that could reasonably be expected to give rise to violations.”
The agreement further stated that Mack is required to “cooperate with any current or future NCAA investigations related to events occurring during Mack’s employment.”
For context, the NCAA sent an amended notice of allegations to Louisville in October, which included new alleged Level II violations stemming from graduate assistants participating in on-court activities, which isn't allowed, and the program breaking rules in creating personalized recruiting videos,
Per the agreement signed Wednesday by Mack and interim president Lori Stewart Gonzalez, Mack has a period of seven days to “revoke the Agreement,” if he so chooses. That would seem to be supremely unlikely, of course, but the agreement does not officially become effective until Feb. 3, after that period of seven days concludes.
So, was Chris Mack fired?
No, Mack was not fired.
Sure, Louisville’s recent dismal performance led, in part, to the departure, but he was not fired. Had he been fired without cause, he would’ve received more than $12 million. The school stated that the parties “mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately.”
The good, the bad, the ugly: A timeline of Chris Mack's tenure with Louisville basketball
Can interim AD Josh Heird hire a new Louisville basketball coach?
Heird said yesterday he is planning to move forward with making the hire, unless Louisville were to hire someone else to be the permanent athletic director.
“It is my intention to hire the next head coach,” he said. “Somebody could change that on me, as far as naming a permanent AD and it not being me, but right now, I plan to obviously consult university leadership and plan to make that hire.”
Who might Louisville basketball hire as its next head coach?
For Louisville basketball fans, there may not be a more important question.
Ed Cooley, Scott Davenport, Andy Enfield, Chris Holtmann, Nate Oats, Matt McMahon, Wes Miller, Eric Musselman, Kenny Payne, Bruce Pearl, Kelvin Sampson, Kevin Willard and others have all been suggested as potential candidates — although it is not yet known who among them would be interested.
Heird strongly said on Wednesday that he believes the Louisville job is among the best in the country, and he expects to receive “some of the best, most highly qualified candidates” for the position.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Chris Mack's $4.8 million separation agreement with Louisville