Rick Pitino built his legend at Kentucky.
He plans to cement it at Louisville.
Pitino signed a three-year contract extension with the Cardinals
on Thursday that could keep him at the school through 2013, long
enough for a highly anticipated downtown arena to open while he
tries to lead the school to its third national championship.
"I'm a very lucky, I was going to say young man, but I'm a very
lucky old man," the 54-year-old Pitino said with a laugh.
The new deal increases Pitino's annual salary from $1.65 million
to $2.25 million a year beginning next season and will pay him $2.5
million a year if he stays until the end of the contract. The
contract also boosted a loyalty bonus due Pitino on July 1 from $1
million to $1.75 million. He'll receive loyalty bonuses of $3.6
million in 2010 and 2013 if he remains with the school.
"He's worth every penny of it, probably double it," said
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.
Pitino is 142-58 in six seasons at Louisville and led the
Cardinals to the 2005 Final Four. Louisville went 24-10 last year,
losing to Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He
is 494-182 in 21 seasons overall and won a national championship at
Kentucky in 1996.
The deal comes a month after the Wildcats signed new head coach
Billy Gillispie to a seven-year contract that will pay him $2.3
million a season.
Pitino said he isn't thinking about retirement yet, but plans to
finish his career with the Cardinals.
"You can never say never, but as long as Tom Jurich is here as
the athletic director, I will always be here," Pitino said. "This
is where I want to live. This is where I want to coach."
Pitino has been part of a concerted drive by the school to
update its athletic facilities in order to compete in the Big East.
Louisville is opening up a sparkling new practice gym in the fall,
and a 20,000-seat downtown arena is scheduled to open its doors in
The new buildings, plus a team that returns eight of its top
nine players next season, have rejuvenated Pitino, who hired his
son Richard as an assistant coach last month.
"When the day comes where I can't do every individual
instruction, can't do practice, can't break down the film can't
live on the road recruiting-wise, that's the time to retire and I'm
a long way from that," Pitino said. "I'm more energetic today
than I was 20 years ago."
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