Despite rumors swirling that he wouldn’t make it to the new year, Kenny Payne will remain the head coach of the Louisville men’s basketball program as the calendar flips to 2024.
“Kenny, and I have had a number of conversations throughout the last week, and Kenny is going to serve as our head coach as we move into the new year,” U of L athletic director Josh Heird told WDRB’s Eric Crawford. “And I’m going to do what I do with every one of our programs, which is evaluate what’s happening throughout the season.”
Payne will remain in charge despite a 9-35 overall record and home attendance numbers inside the KFC Yum Center that have consistently dipped closer and closer to the 4,000 mark.
Heird consistently cited the support that Payne still has from his players as the main reason to keep moving forward without making a major change.
Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Skyy Clark both voiced their support of Payne following last night’s 95-76 loss to Kentucky.
“With players, we’re still rocking with KP,” Clark said.
“Forever,” Huntley-Hatfield added.
Whether or not Payne gets a third year — or whether or not he completes his second — will still ultimately come down to Payne’s ability to either win at a much higher clip than he has, or to at least showcase that such a jump forward is possible.
“When it comes to trying to create some positive momentum every action, every word matters,” Heird told Crawford. “I always go back and say that in any public job — I don’t think it’s necessarily sports, it could be politics — everything you do is judged. There is no, ‘Eh, that was OK.’ And if you haven’t made some deposits in the bank, people aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt. You know, there might be something that was said that was — I don’t want to call it irrelevant, but just there wasn’t there wasn’t much there — but if you haven’t created that positive momentum and made some deposits with wins, people are going to say that’s a negative. Results matter. They absolutely do. So, to answer your question of is there a way to turn the temperature down outside of winning basketball games? I think that’s going to be hard to do to be honest with you.”
Get ready to hear a healthy dose of the same lines, debates and explanations as you’ve heard for the last 21 months.