Kenny Payne back with the Cards, officially named UofL men’s basketball coach

Kenny Payne was announced as the UofL men's head basketball coach on March 18.
Kenny Payne was announced as the UofL men's head basketball coach on March 18.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 11:59 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kenny Payne has returned home as the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Louisville.

The post officially became his on Friday during a special announcement at the KFC Yum! Center.

A high school all-American from Mississippi, Payne played for the Louisville Cardinals in college, where he won a national championship in 1986. Payne was then drafted in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft before eventually becoming an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky under Coach John Calipari for a decade.

Friday after he was introduced and congratulated by UofL Interim Athletic Director Josh Heird and Gov. Andy Beshear, Payne said he’s thankful to have spent valuable years at both UofL and UK.

Speaking to a crowd of UofL Cardinal staff members and fans, he said, “Understand now, the University of Kentucky embraced one of yours. ... They embraced one of yours more than I can ever tell you. I can’t do this by myself, but what they said to me was this: ‘In order for this state to be great, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky have to be great.’ How powerful is that?”

For the last two seasons, Payne has been an assistant coach with the New York Knicks.

On Thursday, Payne arrived at Bowman Field in Louisville via private jet ahead of the much anticipated announcement on Friday. In addition to his former head coach at UofL, Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum, he also appeared with Wade Houston, the man who recruited him in his youth out of Laurel, Miss.

For the last two seasons, Payne has been an assistant coach with the New York Knicks. He was considered the favorite to replace Chris Mack, who left the post in January, as UofL’s head coach.

Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.