The good, the bad, the ugly: A timeline of Chris Mack's tenure with Louisville basketball

Hayes Gardner
Louisville Courier Journal

Just under four years after he was welcomed to Louisville with high aspirations, the Chris Mack era is officially over.

The University of Louisville and Mack "mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately," the school stated following a meeting between the Board of Trustees and Athletic Association Board of Directors Wednesday evening. Mack will receive $4.8 million in a settlement.

Mack arrived at the Kueber Center, Louisville's athletic facility, Wednesday afternoon to meet with players and gather his belongings.

"I ain’t bitter at all. I got my family, I got a great life, we’re good," Mack said before departing the facility.

Here's a look back at Mack's time as the Louisville coach:

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Introduced as head coach — March 28, 2018

Chris Mack was introduced as Louisville’s head men’s basketball coach at a press conference, becoming the program’s third permanent coach since 1971.

Mack had been the head coach of Xavier, his alma mater, for the previous nine years, leading the Musketeers to four Sweet 16 appearances. He said at the time that he hoped he’d retire at Louisville.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Mack said then.

Louisville's Jordan Nwora pressures Indiana's Aljami Durham Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. Cardinal coach Chris Mack, seen from the sideline, said afterwards: "As I told our guys, you're going to have times where even the best teams on offense don't score four or five possessions in a row, and we've got to be able to keep the other team from scoring. We didn't do that."

Cardinals go to NCAA Tournament: March 21, 2019

In his first year at the helm, Mack led Louisville to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed. The Cardinals were pitted against No. 10 seed Minnesota, coached by Richard Pitino, the son of former Cardinal headman Rick Pitino.

Senior Christen Cunningham poured in 22 points, but U of L fell in the tournament’s opening round.

It's all in the details:Chris Mack's first season at Louisville

Louisville basketball ranked No. 1 — Dec 2, 2019

Just 21 months after Mack’s hiring, Louisville was the No. 1 team in the country.

The Cardinals began the 2019-20 season ranked No. 5, per the AP poll, but had an undefeated November and climbed up the rankings. It was U of L's first time rated No. 1 in the poll since 2013.

They remained No. 1 that week after beating No. 4 Michigan in the Yum Center in front of a packed crowd of 21,674. In that game, Louisville's Mack-implemented pack-line defense held Michigan to a 25.9% field goal percentage, its second-worst mark of the previous decade.

Louisville's returning six: Malik Williams, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon Jordan Nwora, Darius Perry and Steven Enoch. The team had a 20-14 record last season, finishing stronger than many had predicted for Coach Chris Mack's first year as head coach.

Louisville basketball's NCAA Tournament hopes dashed by COVID — March 12, 2020

The Cardinals, led by elite scorer Jordan Nwora, fell in the polls but were still a top-15 team entering the 2020 NCAA Tournament and projected to be a No. 3 or No. 4 seed. In early March, U of L was the team 8th-most likely to win the entire tournament, per a sportsbook, and a Sweet 16 and beyond seemed on the horizon.

However, the tournament, like everything else, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and U of L never had a chance to make a run in the Big Dance.

More:What to know about Chris Mack and his future with Louisville basketball

Short-handed Louisville loses at Wisconsin — Dec. 19, 2020

U of L began Mack’s third season with a 4-0 record and a top-25 ranking, but the Cardinals visited Wisconsin short-handed after a layoff due to COVID-19. With only eight scholarship players, Louisville fell to the Badgers 85-48. It was the Cardinals' largest margin of defeat in more than 60 years.

"We were thoroughly outplayed, outmanned, out-toughed, outcoached," Mack said after the game.

No NCAA Tournament for Louisville — March 14, 2021

The Cardinals were ranked as high as No. 16 over the course of the season and defeated rival Kentucky, but the season was defined by slowdowns due to the pandemic. When Selection Sunday rolled around, however, most expected U of L to make the field.

But Louisville, which had been ranked No. 1 in the country the previous season, missed the tournament's field and declined a bid to play in the NIT.

Staff changes — March-May, 2021

After the season, Mack did not renew the contracts for assistant coaches Luke Murray and Dino Gaudio, who he'd known for 30 years.

Longtime assistant Mike Pegues remained on staff and Khalil Fennell was elevated from director of basketball operations to the coaching staff. Mack then hired fast-paced offensive guru Ross McMains to complete the trio of assistants.

Coaching staff for the 2018-19 UofL mens basketball program were formally introduced on Monday afternoon. Pictured from left to right with head coach Chris Mack are Luke Murray, Mike Pegues, and Dino Gaudio. 4/9/18

Dino Gaudio charged in federal court — May 18, 2021

Gaudio, who had been fired in March, was later charged in federal court with attempting to extort money from U of L after a recorded conversation demonstrated that he had demanded Mack and Louisville continue to pay him his contract after being fired.

LISTEN:Transcript of the full audio conversation between Louisville coaches Chris Mack, Dino Gaudio

Gaudio threatened to report allegations that the Louisville program had violated NCAA rules in its production of recruiting videos and in its use of graduate assistants in practice — unless he was compensated.

Gaudio was later sentenced to a year’s probation and received a $10,000 fine.

Chris Mack suspended — August 27, 2021

Louisville suspended Mack, without pay, for the team’s first six games of the season, saying that he “failed to follow University guidelines, policies and procedures,” in his firing Gaudio.

Mack would forfeit about $221,000 in salary.

More:NCAA adds Chris Mack violations following Dino Gaudio incident to infractions case

Mack returns to sidelines — Dec. 1, 2021

In the Cardinals six games without Mack, the team went 5-1, which included wins over Mississippi State and Maryland, but a loss at home to Furman.

In Mack's first game back, on Dec. 1, Louisville fell at Michigan State, and the rest of the month was a challenge, too. The Cardinals beat N.C. State, lost to DePaul, beat Southeastern Louisiana and then fell at in-state opponent Western Kentucky.

Western Kentucky tops Louisville

Losing streak begins — Jan 8, 2022

Louisville won its first three conference games — each one narrowly — but then went on a skid, losing three-straight to Florida State, N.C. State and Pitt.

“It is extremely frustrating at this point, but that falls on deaf ears,” Mack said after the Pitt game, two weeks ago. “Until I can figure out what motivates our group, I don’t see a lot changing. It’s frustrating.”

Russ Smith's jersey retirement — Jan 22, 2022

With an announced crowd of more than 16,000 on hand at the Yum Center to see Louisville legend Russ Smith have his jersey retired, the Cardinals again notched a disappointing loss, this time to Notre Dame.

Fans booed following the final buzzer.

“I’m frustrated, too,” Mack said of the boos.

More:Louisville basketball fans boo as Cardinals fall to Notre Dame for 4th loss in 5 games

Louisville captain Malik Williams was asked if players were still responding to the coaching staff, or if they were tuning them out.

“I don’t have a comment for that,” Williams replied.

Losing 5 of the past 6 in ACC play — Jan. 24, 2022

The Cardinals fell to 5-5 in ACC play after losing at Virginia, including dropping five of the past six.

“We’re not here to do anything other than win games, and we haven’t gotten the job done here as of late,” Mack said.

Meetings announced — Jan. 25, 2022

On Tuesday, Louisville announced that there would be a joint meeting between the Board of Trustees and the Athletic Association Board scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. The meeting’s agenda stated the boards would meet to “discuss proposed or pending litigation and personnel matters.”

Mack’s weekly radio show, which had been scheduled for Tuesday night, was also canceled, which further sparked speculation that Mack’s days as Louisville’s coach were numbered. By the following day, he'd officially be out as the U of L headman.

When asked about what's next for him, Mack said he didn't yet know. "I'm making dinner tonight," he quipped.

Hayes Gardner can be reached at; Twitter: @HayesGardner.