LOUISVILLE (KT) — Since the announcement of two NCAA Level 2 allegations against him on Sept. 30, Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack had avoided commenting publicly on the matter. But he had to know that the subject was virtually guaranteed to come up during the annual ACC Basketball Tipoff activities in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday. When it did, he was well prepared.
Speaking with WDRB News, Mack, to his credit, didn’t duck the NCAA issue with a ‘no comment’ or use the excuse that he couldn’t talk about it because it was ongoing. He answered forcefully when asked about the allegations of practice participation by student managers and grad assistants, and recruiting videos that violated NCAA rules.
He also noted his lengthy record of compliance and sarcastically referred to the charges, indicating he feels they were minor.
“I’m in year 24 of college basketball,” Mack said. “I’ve always done things the right way and I always will. It’s frustrating with the Level 2 allegations that have been levied. GAs practicing? Videos? In the context of college basketball? But that’s for another day. With my last breath, I will fight these. My focus has strictly been on our team.”
UofL is still waiting for a resolution to alleged violations in the college basketball pay-for-play scandal that had its origins in 2017. The most recent allegations were added to those in an amendment to the Notice of Allegations in September, bringing the total to one Level I and six Level II violations being handled by the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP).
On Monday, the Independent Resolution Panel released a timeline up to this point showing where they are in their deliberations but didn’t set any future dates. That’s not good enough for Mack, who called the lengthy process “ridiculous.” UofL issued a statement earlier this month saying a decision isn’t expected until the spring of 2022.
“At some point, that will get resolved — both these recent issues and issues that we had no control over when we came in,” Mack said, referring to his hiring date in March 2018. “But going on year five, I think it’s ridiculous that there hasn’t been closure. But when there’s finally closure, it’ll be a good thing, and we’ll move forward.”
On Aug. 27, Mack was handed a six-game suspension, without pay, from Nov. 8-27, as the result of his actions in the firing of assistant coach Dino Gaudio when he disregarded university policy.
“When I was a little kid and kicked a soccer ball into the stands after we tied a game, my dad spanked me and I moved on,” Mack said at UofL’s “Louisville Live” event at Churchill Downs recently. “That’s all I’m going to say about that. The team’s in great hands. We’ve got a lot of time to prepare before Nov. 9. And (assistant coach) Mike (Peagues) will do a great job in my absence.”
In the meantime, Mack says that he isn’t obsessing over the suspension, concentrating all of his efforts on practices.
“We have a great group of guys,” he said. “We have a great coaching staff. We have an awesome vibe in the gym, for anybody that’s been to practice. So the only thing I worry about right now is pleasing those guys and working them, and making sure our fan base is excited about our team and the season we have. And everything else will take care of itself.”