UK Men's Basketball

Payne confirms he spoke to U of L about coaching job, touts Cards’ revival as good for state

Kentucky associate coach Kenny Payne confirmed Thursday that he spoke to Louisville Director of Athletics Vince Tyra about the school’s head basketball coaching position before it was filled by Chris Mack.
Kentucky associate coach Kenny Payne confirmed Thursday that he spoke to Louisville Director of Athletics Vince Tyra about the school’s head basketball coaching position before it was filled by Chris Mack. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Kentucky associate coach Kenny Payne confirmed Thursday that he spoke to Louisville Director of Athletics Vince Tyra about the school’s head basketball coaching position.

Ultimately, U of L hired Chris Mack from Xavier.

“I think that was pretty much done beforehand,” Payne said. “No hard feelings, at all.

“Louisville is a great university, and it’s my university. Where I went to school. And I wish them well.”

Payne, who played for Louisville in the 1980s, then went a step further by touting the good that can come from U of L recovering from prominence in the ongoing FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball.

“The state needs Louisville to be good,” Payne said.

When asked if he meant basketball as a sport benefited from the excitement generated by the UK-U of L rivalry, Payne said, “We need that. We need that.”

John Calipari said it is premature, at best, to ponder reforms NCAA announced Wednesday.

Payne suggested that his conversation with Tyra should not be seen as unhappiness at Kentucky.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I’m around some special kids every year, not just this year, but every year. I get to identify character kids and go from there with it.”

Payne turns 52 on Nov. 25. He laughed off the suggestion his biological clock timing a head coaching job was ticking louder and louder.

“I know I’m very old,” he said with a laugh. “Nah, I don’t know. I don’t worry about that kind of stuff.”

Payne said he was concentrating on his job with UK.

“The first thing is taking care of what I’ve got in front of me,” he said. “What’s in front of me is the University of Kentucky. Hopefully an athletic director (will) look at me and do some homework and say, ‘That’s the type of man I would want to run our program. He loves kids. He wants to do it the right way. He teaches character. He teaches work ethic. Understands the importance of academics.’ You know, that’s more important to me.”

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