LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky's search for its next basketball
coach won't include Rick Pitino.
Pitino said Monday that while he enjoyed his eight years with
the Wildcats, he's happy coaching Louisville and wouldn't consider
returning to the school he led to the national championship in
"I would never ever leave [Louisville] to go to another college
because they're my family," Pitino said.
Though Pitino said he was "shocked" by Tubby Smith's sudden
departure last week, he sees too much potential in the Cardinals to
consider leaving. Louisville went 24-10 this season and finished
second in the Big East before falling to Texas A&M in the second
round of the NCAA Tournament.
While Pitino acknowledged leaving Kentucky following the 1997
season was a "mistake," he joked that at age 54 he's "too old to
leave" Louisville, but understands why there's so much speculation
about his interest in the job.
"It's a great job. I had eight years of Camelot, I've said
that," he said. "It's the Roman Empire of college basketball."
Florida coach Billy Donovan, who played for Pitino at Providence
and spent several years as a Kentucky assistant under Pitino, could
be among the candidates to replace Smith. Pitino declined to
speculate on whether Donovan is considering leaving Florida.
The defending national champions play UCLA in the Final Four on
Saturday and are trying to become the first team since Duke in 1992
to win back-to-back titles.
"Billy is like a son to me and I stopped telling Billy what to
do and what not to do in 1987," Pitino said. "He's got a great
opportunity right now. He's not thinking of anything else."