Rick Pitino made Louisville the richest college basketball program


The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program is once again in the middle of an ugly scandal. This time it is a bribery scandal, revealed Tuesday, in which 10 coaches and associates with ties to multiple major programs have already been arrested. On Wednesday, ESPN reported that Louisville’s head coach, Rick Pitino, had been fired.

Under most criteria, Pitino’s 16-year tenure at Louisville was good — but not as great as many may associate with his name and the program. His Louisville teams reached three Final Fours and won one championship, and since he took over the program 11 of his players were selected in the NBA draft. That is the same number of NBA draft selections as Maryland and Memphis had during the same period, fewer than that of Florida State and Oregon (12 each), and well behind that of Louisville’s in-state rival Kentucky (35).

But there is one criterion that shows how important Pitino has been to Louisville’s athletic department and why his job had survived until now: He led Louisville as it became the richest NCAA men’s basketball program, and it is not even close. Over the past 10 reporting years, Louisville men’s basketball has reported $356 million in revenue, $116 million more than any other program. In fact, only 12 other programs reported even $150 million in revenue during a period when the Cardinals were averaging more than $35 million a year.

COTD_9.27Mike Nudelman/Business Insider


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