LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Retiring Louisville coach Denny Crum said yesterday “nothing has happened” in the search for his successor, despite speculation Rick Pitino was interested in the job.
Crum retired last Friday, ending a 30-year Hall of Fame career. Pitino, who coached Kentucky to the 1996 national championship, withdrew his name from consideration for the UNLV job.
Pitino told ESPN.com yesterday he had not been contacted by anyone at Louisville. His agent, Rick Avare, who lives in Lexington, did not immediately return a phone message.
Crum said at his retirement announcement he wanted to help in the search for his replacement, but Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said minutes later that he would act as a “one-man search committee.” The two have developed an icy relationship since January.
Crum said he hasn”t heard any news about his replacement.
“What I”ve been told is nothing has happened and nothing is going to happen or even be considered until after our season is over,” Crum said. “I believe that 100 percent. That”s the way it ought to be and I think that”s the way it will be.”
Crum has at least one more game, against Alabama-Birmingham tomorrow in the first round of the Conference USA tournament in Louisville.
When asked about what he would think of Pitino succeeding him, Crum answered, “I wouldn”t want to touch that question any more than the man in the moon. Are you kidding?”
Sunday, UNLV posted a statement on its website saying the former Boston Celtics coach won”t be working there.
“While speaking with Rick Pitino earlier this evening, he expressed to me the fact that he didn”t feel he was a good fit for the UNLV men”s basketball program,” UNLV athletics director Charles Cavagnaro said. “Obviously, we are disappointed that Coach Pitino has reached this decision, but we are moving forward with our continued search for a basketball coach that will benefit both UNLV and the Las Vegas community.”
He had been involved in a long courting process with the president and athletic director at the Las Vegas school. Most recently, his wife visited the city, and Pitino said she enjoyed the trip.
He said he was interested in the job, but was worried about whether he could recruit well enough from the junior college ranks to make UNLV a national powerhouse again.
“If I think I can recruit tremendous high school players there, then it becomes an extremely attractive job,” Pitino said. “That”s what I”m struggling with. Some people I respect say you have to recruit the junior college ranks hard. I”m not real good at junior college recruiting because my background is not in junior college recruiting.”
Another possible factor in Pitino”s thinking: Earlier this season, the NCAA placed UNLV on probation for four years, and denied it two scholarships for each of the next two seasons. The school then fired coach Bill Bayno.