The Louisville Cardinals’ Athletic Director Tom Jurich wants to see Rick Pitino coaching in his 70s and plans on doing everything he can to make it happen.
Recently Pitino has made it known that as long as he’s healthy he’s open to the idea of extending his contract past its 2017 expiration date. Pitino had said earlier in the year that after his current contract expired he wouldn’t be surprised if he retired.
Jurich is determined to keep Pitino around.
“I want to take him out another five after this, take him til he’s 70,” Jurich said. “Because as you can see, I think he’s somebody who’s 60 going on 35, and I really believe that because we see him every day. I’m not exaggerating. This guy’s got more energy than any human being alive, so I think it would be a crime to see him retire.”
Pitino signed his current deal in March of 2010 that has a base salary of $2.5 million per season. It has multiple incentives and bonuses that bump the number up to an estimated $5 million.
If Jurich wants to get Pitino to sign an extension that takes him through 2022, he knows it’s going to take more than just money. His plan is to focus on Pitino’s passion for coaching kids and hopes 65 years old will be too early for Pitino to step away in 2017. The timing might be perfect after Louisville’s run to the Final Four last season.
“Those kids are just something special to him,” Jurich said. “I’ve never seen him like this with these kids. Last year he loved them and there was incredible chemistry and this year is even better than last year as far as chemistry.”
Since coming to the Cardinals in 2001-02, Pitino has never had fewer than 19 wins with a record of 275-106, along with two Final Four appearances. In his history, Pitino has won a NCAA Championship with the Kentucky Wildcats in 1995-95 and has an overall coaching record of 616-227.
As far as coaches with name value in the college ranks, Pitino will go down as one of the greatest of all-time. Despite his struggles in the NBA, Pitino’s success coaching in the NCAA is unquestioned and it’s no surprise Jurich wants to keep him around for as long as he can.
Jurich has been Louisville’s AD for 15 years, he saw Pitino replace former coach Denny Crum, who led Louisville to two NCAA Championships.
Jurich hopes it’ll be at least ten years before he has to replace Pitino.
“Have we agreed to anything? No,” Jurich said. “But he knows we’re going to put so much pressure on him that we can make him wilt.”