Reports: Louisville plans to fire coach Kenny Payne

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Louisville plans to inform Kenny Payne that he will not return as the program’s head coach, multiple media outlets reported.

The Cardinals concluded an 8-24 season (3-17 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) on Tuesday with an eighth straight loss, a 94-85 setback to North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC tournament.

Payne, 57, posted a 12-52 record during his two seasons with Louisville. He is expected to receive approximately $8 million as a buyout for what remains on his six-year contract.

Payne appeared to deflect blame on Tuesday when asked by reporters if he feels he should return for a third season with the Cardinals.

“For me, I go back to Day One,” he said. “When I walked into the program as the new head coach, I talked about, I needed everybody on the same page. We sort of forgot that. I talked about how I’m not going to let you blame me. I’m not standing up here by myself. I need all of Louisville with me. We sort of forgot that. I talked about, it’s going to take time, and I’m going to watch and see who jumped on and off the Titanic. We sort of forgot that. I gave a specific time. I said three or four years. And I’m good with that. That’s what I believed at that time, and that’s what I still believe it takes to fix this program.

“With guys like this, you have a foundation. Brandon (Huntley) Hatfield, Mike James, JJ Traynor, the young guys we have, we have a foundation. Whether I’m the coach or not, I can look in the mirror and say I gave it everything I had to help this program.”

Payne, who played at Louisville and won a national title with the Cardinals in 1986, was named the program’s coach after the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. Louisville limped to a 4-28 record overall and 2-18 in ACC play in 2022-23.