LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville assistant men's basketball coach David Padgett was named acting head coach of the program on Friday, just two days after Rick Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave after being linked to a federal corruption investigation that has rocked college basketball.
Interim president Greg Postel announced the hire during a late-afternoon news conference on campus.
Padgett, a former player who returned to the program as director of basketball operations in 2014, averaged 11.2 points per game as a senior at Louisville during the 2007-08 season. The former prep All-American played overseas for two seasons before joining IUPUI's staff and commencing his coaching career.
"David is known by all as a hard worker," Postel said. "These are the kinds of things that will allow him to be extraordinary in this role."
Padgett acknowledged the challenges the program has faced this week. He said he accepted the role because of his commitment to the players on the roster.
Padgett said players had an enthusiastic workout Wednesday after Pitino and former athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on leave. He said their attitude confirmed "they're a special group" that he expects the team's supporters to rally around this season.
Players had previously backed Padgett as Pitino's replacement when they met Wednesday after a conditioning workout. After the news was announced Friday, they said they were happy that Padgett was the choice.
Padgett said he's unsure who will be on his staff; he'll wait until an interim athletic director is named next week to finalize the pool of assistants who will join him. He said he hasn't talked to assistants Kenny Johnson or Jordan Fair.
"It's gonna be a challenge," he said. "No question about it."
On Tuesday, 10 people tied to a corruption scandal unveiled by the FBI, including four assistant coaches at four separate Division I programs, were arrested. Staffers at Louisville, Miami and Alabama also have been mentioned in the aftermath of the investigation.
The FBI documents cited two coaches on Louisville's staff as working with Adidas executive Jim Gatto to funnel $100,000 to five-star recruit Brian Bowen. On Thursday, ABC News confirmed that Pitino is the "Coach-2" mentioned in the FBI documents as the coach who spoke to Gatto multiple times and "requested" the transaction that allegedly sealed Bowen's commitment.
Bowen has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities, but he's still on campus, Padgett said.
Padgett said he still has a relationship with Pitino. When they spoke after Wednesday's final team meeting, Padgett said the former coach was "heartbroken."
Pitino released a statement Friday, thanking players from his time at Providence, Kentucky and Louisville, and his friends and family. He also complimented Jurich. He denied knowledge of any payments to any recruit or their family, but said he "will take ownership of my decisions."
"I can't deny my relationship with Coach Pitino," Padgett said. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him."
But Padgett said coaches don't have to cheat to get top talent. He said he can promise supporters he will not be named in the documents connected to the FBI investigation.
"I can assure that for myself," he said.