Louisville’s noisy offseason continued Friday, as the university announced it has suspended men’s basketball coach Chris Mack for six games to start the 2021-22 season.
Mack’s suspension comes in the aftermath of one of the more surprising plot twists in college basketball from the spring: an extortion attempt against Mack by former Louisville assistant Dino Gaudio. Gaudio threatened to go to the media and expose wrongdoing in Louisville’s program after Mack informed Gaudio he was firing him. Unbeknownst to Gaudio, Mack was recording their conversation, which enabled extortion charges to be levied.
“The university concluded that while Mack was a victim of an extortion attempt by former assistant coach Dino Gaudio, Mack failed to follow university guidelines, policies, and procedures in handling the matter,” the school said in its statement. “The sanctions imposed upon Coach Mack are unrelated to the extortion attempt itself and the ongoing NCAA process.”
On Friday, Sports Illustrated published a transcript of Mack and Gaudio’s meeting that peels back on Gaudio’s demands, asking to be paid until September of 2022, so he can earn money until he decides to retire. Mack tells Gaudio he will pay him out of his own pocket if that helps.
Mack’s handling of Gaudio and that situation violated university guidelines, according to the school, though all specific rules that were broken by Mack have not been disclosed. Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra met with the media on a teleconference Friday afternoon and said Mack violated university terms by not having a human resources employee present when he fired Gaudio and, prior to that, former assistant Luke Murray.
Tyra also reaffirmed that Louisville is currently under investigation by the NCAA for the alleged rules violations Gaudio referenced in his conversation with Mack, namely using graduate assistants as practice players and videos for recruitment.
Mack will be suspended from Nov. 8-27 and will not be paid while he serves the punishment. Louisville has not yet released its full schedule for the forthcoming season, so it’s not publicly known which games Mack will not be coaching in. He will for sure miss Louisville’s trip to the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship on Nov. 25 and 27, which is an event that has Louisville playing Mississippi State and then either Richmond or Maryland. Louisville also has nonconference games — with dates not yet disclosed — scheduled against Navy, Furman and Detroit.
“During the suspension, Coach Mack is prohibited from having any contact with the men’s basketball coaching staff or student-athletes,” the school said. “As the suspension is without pay, Coach Mack will forfeit approximately $221,000 in compensation.”
Said Mack: “I regret that any of my unintentional actions or failures to follow university guidelines have brought unnecessary attention to our outstanding athletics programs and University. I understand that I could have handled matters differently and therefore I accept this suspension. While it will kill me to be away from our basketball family in November, I will do everything possible to set them up for success before and after my time away, and I am fully confident that our coaches, staff and student-athletes will rise to the occasion.”
Gaudio, who pled guilty to extortion, was sentenced Friday to one year of probation and a $10,000 fine. His case went to court on account of the Louisville police forwarding the incident to the FBI. As he gave Gaudio his sentence on Friday, the judge said, “I remain puzzled why we are even here on a federal felony today? This is a strange felony prosecution in my observation.”