It’s official. Kenny Payne is the new head coach of the University of Louisville men’s basketball program.
Payne’s contract with the Cardinals will be for six years, extending through the 2027-28 season. He will be paid $3.35 million per year.
“As I stated when we began this process in early February, the University of Louisville is a destination job and the strength of our candidate pool proved this out,” said U of L interim athletic director Josh Heird. “After a thorough national search during which we sat down with a number of expectational coaches, it was clear that Kenny Payne was what we need. His basketball knowledge, his passion for his student-athletes, his vision for our program and his understanding of what Louisville Basketball means to our city and to our institution, are evident. I am thrilled to welcome Kenny and Michelle, and their children, Alexis and Zan, to the University of Louisville.”
The 55-year-old Payne will become just the sixth Louisville head coach over the last 48 years, and the first Black coach of a program that was at the forefront of integration nearly 60 years ago. Payne most recently served as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks after 15 years as a college assistant or associate head coach at Oregon and Kentucky.
“I want to thank President Gonzalez and Josh Heird for this incredible opportunity to return to a place that means so much to me to lead our storied basketball program,” said Payne. “While there are challenges, I see opportunities, and if we are united and aligned, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. Our fans and community deserve a championship basketball program fueled by exceptional and high-character student-athletes, and it is my responsibility to deliver on that vision. I cannot wait to get started.”
As a player at Louisville, Payne scored 1,083 points in his career (1985-86), connecting on 40.1 percent of his career three-point attempts (85-of-212, fourth-highest in U of L history). He was a member of Louisville’s 1986 NCAA Championship team as a freshman and over his collegiate career, Louisville participated in three NCAA Sweet Sixteens, won three Metro Conference championships and three Metro tournament titles. As a senior playing under Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum, Payne averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and was named to the All-Metro Conference Second Team.
Payne’s introductory press conference at the KFC Yum Center is set to begin shortly after 10 a.m.