LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Not a single member of the University of Louisville Athletics Association Board of Directors wanted to move forward with Rick Pitino as the face of the men's basketball program. The board unanimously voted to fire the embattled coach after 17 years with the program.
"The University of Louisville Athletics Association has voted to terminate Richard Pitino under paragraph 6 of his employment contract for just cause," one board member read aloud, following a nearly 5-hour executive session inside the Jefferson Room in the historic Grawemeyer Hall.
In fact, Pitino's name, face and bio had been scrubbed from the program's website two days after he was placed on an unpaid suspension.
The following week, Interim President Dr. Greg Postel told Pitino in a letter dated October 3, the association was starting the process to fire him.
But, according to Pitino's contract, the association had to wait 10 days before it could make another official move. After the October 3 letter was obtained by the WHAS11 News i-Team through Kentucky open records laws, a university spokesperson said the school made the assumption Pitino and his team received the letter by October 6.
Monday, the 16th, marked the end of that 10-day window, opening the door for Pitino to be fired.
The decision did not come at the start of the special meeting; board members decided to go into an executive session which lasted nearly 5 hours and included a 90-minute presentation from Pitino's legal team led by Steve Pence. Pitino's contract also stipulated he would have the opportunity to present evidence as to why he should not be fired.
"We wanted to make sure coach Pitino's team had a chance to present materials to us," Postel said to reporters after the meeting ended, "They gave a presentation and presented us with some written materials which we saw for the first time. One of the reasons the meeting was so long was to have a chance to thoughtfully go through the materials."
The presentation was not enough to convince the board to keep Pitino at the helm. The board cited a culmination of issues which it believed violated 3 sections of Pitino's contract.
In its presentation, Pence said the University had not proven those portions of the contract were violated and would be in breach of contract if the association fired Pitino.
Postel was firm in wanting to cut ties with Pitino despite a 17-year history in the program. Postel said it was in the interest of stability for the program and everyone who loves the University.
"At the end of the day that is really what this is all about," Postel said, "The student-athletes, putting quality entertainment and quality sports forward and trying to get this university into a stable and good spot."
i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @WHAS11DRose.
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