Former Louisville basketball assistant coach Dino Gaudio federally charged for attempt to extort program

Former Louisville basketball assistant coach Dino Gaudio has been charged with one federal count of attempting to extort money and other things of value from the university, according to information released Tuesday by Michael Bennett, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

According to the charge, Gaudio, during an in-person meeting with Louisville officials on March 17, "threatened to report to the media allegations that the University of Louisville men's basketball program had violated [NCAA] rules in its production of recruiting videos for prospective student-athletes and its use of graduate assistants in practice, unless the University of Louisville paid [Gaudio] his salary for an additional 17 months or provided the lump sum equivalent of 17 months of salary."

Later that day, according to the charge, Gaudio "sent a text message to the University of Louisville personnel containing one of the recruiting videos he was threatening to send to the media." The text message traveled outside Kentucky, according to the government.

Gaudio, 64, is charged with interstate communication with intent to extort.

"As detailed in the charging document, after Gaudio was informed that his contract would not be renewed, he threatened to inform members of the media of alleged NCAA violations within the men's basketball program unless he was paid a significant sum of money," Louisville officials said in a statement. "The allegations of violations are the impermissible production of recruiting videos for prospective student-athletes and the impermissible use of graduate managers in practices and workouts. While the University cannot comment further due to the ongoing federal investigation and the NCAA process, it continues to cooperate with authorities as well as with the NCAA on the matter."

Gaudio, a former ESPN analyst, spent three seasons under Louisville coach Chris Mack, who decided to replace Gaudio and assistant Luke Murray in March after a disappointing year for the program.

"When he was not renewed, he was hurt, he became angry, and in the course of that he made statements he regrets," Gaudio's attorney, Brian Butler, told ESPN. "Unfortunately, those statements were taped, and he was not given an opportunity to walk them back. They were turned over to law enforcement. Coach Gaudio takes full responsibility for his actions and lack of judgment and the statements he made in a very heated situation. He apologies to his family and friends for his actions and hopes that everyone will consider his 40 years of good and all the contributions he has made."

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Gaudio faces up to two years in prison and is eligible for probation.

"While I cannot comment on the details or substance of the matter, I am grateful for the professionalism of members of law enforcement and the United States Attorney's Office," Mack said in a statement. "The University and I were the victims of Coach Gaudio's conduct and I will continue to fully cooperate with authorities in their investigations. We take seriously any allegation of NCAA violations within our basketball program and will work within the NCAA processes to fully review the allegations."

Louisville received a notice of allegations from the NCAA in May 2020, including one Level I allegation involving improper recruiting offers for former signee Brian Bowen II and the coach of another prospect as well as three Level II allegations, including one against former basketball coach Rick Pitino. The case is still being adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

Louisville also is accused of failing to adequately monitor the recruitment of an incoming, high-profile student-athlete.

The NCAA alleges that Pitino, who now coaches at Iona, did not satisfy his head-coaching responsibility when he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Former assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair are accused of providing impermissible benefits and transportation and of having impermissible contact with a recruit.

In a response to the NCAA, Louisville officials wrote that the university cannot be held responsible for the misconduct of an Adidas employee and consultant and a former agent runner who promised to pay $100,000 to Bowen's father after the same three men were convicted of defrauding the university in a federal criminal trial.

After Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser died following a heart attack in 2007, Gaudio replaced his mentor and coached the Demon Deacons for the next three seasons, amassing a 61-31 record and reaching the NCAA tournament twice. He later became an ESPN college basketball analyst, a job he held until joining Mack's staff in 2018.

The two had worked together as assistants at Xavier. The Cardinals finished 24-7 during the 2019-20 campaign, before the NCAA tournament was canceled. The next year, however, Mack's team went 13-7 in a shortened season that did not end with an invitation to the NCAA tournament. The program was sidelined for weeks due to COVID-19 challenges.

After his team's disappointing finish, Mack said, "There's certainly going to be changes." Weeks later, the team announced the dismissals of Gaudio and Murray.