At a press conference Thursday morning, U of L announced that it had signed Rick Pitino to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Louisville through 2013.
The new deal increases Pitino's annual salary from $1.65 million to $2.25 million a year beginning next season and will pay Pitino $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.
If Pitino stays through the 2010 season, he will get a lump sum bonus of $3.6 million, and he would receive another $3.6 million if he stays through the 2013 season.
"I had heard he had been talking about retirement, and he's such a young man he would be foolish to retire," UofL athletics director Tom Jurich said. "Coach Pitino has done a remarkable job, not only on the court but off the court with the type of ambassador he has been for this university. As long as he's healthy and happy, he will be our coach here, and I think he has a lot of years left."
If Pitino was even jokingly talking about retirement, then signing him for a few more years and offering him a little more dough was the right move after a season that saw some insanely premature second-guessing from the Cardinal fan base (myself included). He sounded pretty upbeat this morning.
"I feel great, and that's the most important thing," Pitino said. "When the day comes when 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 because I'm more energetic today than I was 20 years ago. I still have my PhD. . . passionate, hungry and driven.
"One thing we know in this business is you never say never, but as long as Tom Jurich is here as athletic director I will always be here. This is where my family wants to live, this is where I want to coach, this is the city I want to live in, it's what I want to represent as a person outside the lines. So I'm thrilled with it. I'm a very lucky -- I was going to say young man -- a very lucky old man."
In six seasons at UofL, Pitino is 142-58 with an appearance in the 2005 Final Four. His 2007-2008 squad will likely have the highest preseason expectations of any Cardinal team he's coached.
"I'm very optimistic," he said. "Next year will be the best team we've had in quite sometime. We're ready to compete in the Big East for the upper echelon spots, and with that goes, hopefully, tournament success. And I base it all on recruiting. Recruiting is the lifeline of success. Recruiting tells you exactly where you stand and right now we're in great shape. We're going to have one of the best recruiting classes coming up that we've had in a long time.
"At this point in my life, I understand why we win and why we're successful. Last year, even though we were very young, we all know that Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa, Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark were the reasons why this program became second in the Big East. Now it's up to us to make sure that when those guys move on some day, we back them up with something very much on par with them."
Great news for Pitino, great news for Jurich, and great news for us fans.