Nick Bromberg

Louisville appears to have found its next men’s basketball coach.

According to multiple reports, the Cardinals are set to hire Charleston coach Pat Kelsey. His likely hire comes after Louisville has won a combined 12 games over the past two seasons and hasn’t finished above .500 since going 13-7 in the abbreviated 2020-21 season.

Kelsey has been the coach at Charleston for the past three seasons after a nine-year stint at Winthrop. Charleston has made the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons after winning both the CAA regular season and tournament titles. Charleston was a No. 13 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament and lost 109-96 to No. 4 seed Alabama in the first round.

Winthrop made the NCAA tournament twice in Kelsey’s time at the school and won four Big South regular season titles.

Kelsey would replace Kenny Payne at Louisville following a disastrous two-year run. The former Kentucky assistant and Louisville alum was hired after a 2021-22 season that included the midseason firing of Chris Mack.

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 22: Head coach Pat Kelsey of the Charleston Cougars gestures against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2024 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Charleston has been to the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons under Pat Kelsey. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Kelsey’s main job at Louisville will be to get it back to the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals were a No. 7 seed in their last tournament appearance in 2019, though they were set to be a high seed in 2020 before the cancellation of the event.

Since then, things have spiraled. The program’s recent downturn also likely limited its pool of candidates.

The move to bring Kelsey in comes after Richard Pitino was mentioned as a finalist for the job earlier in the week and former West Virginia coach Bob Huggins publicly campaigned for the job. Huggins said on a radio show Wednesday morning that he thought Louisville was a “perfect” fit, though he said he hadn’t talked to anyone at Louisville about the job.

Huggins spent the 2023-24 season out of coaching after parting ways with West Virginia over the summer following a DUI arrest.

Pitino, New Mexico’s current head coach, is the son of former Louisville and current St. John’s coach Rick Pitino. Under Rick Pitino, Louisville went to back-to-back Final Fours and won the 2013 national title. However, Pitino was fired in 2017 amid an NCAA investigation into improper benefits given to Louisville players. As a result of that investigation, Louisville was forced to vacate its wins from 2010 through 2014.

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