Rick Pitino, coach of the University of Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball team, was the featured guest at the Kentucky Author Forum on Oct. 9, 2013. Author of the just-published book, The One Day Contract, Pitino was interviewed by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera.
In the candid, sprawling, and personal hour-long conversation, Pitino spoke about his early days as a player and graduate assistant, working as a recruiter at Hawaii, and subsequent positions where he was able to hone and fine-tune his own style of coaching. He also talked about NCAA rules and policy, his approach to coaching and helping his athletes develop as athletes and as people, in addition to anecdotes about some of the notable people he has worked with on and off the court.
A few observations and reflections from the interview:
- On the difference between coaching student athletes and professionals: In college you’re part of their life, you go to their weddings. In the pros, it’s almost like being the CEO of a company, and you’re managing people. Because it’s 100 games, they don’t like to practice, and their egos are very large.
- On his years as head coach at the University of Kentucky: I came in at the right time, and left at the right time, in terms of eight great years, never a problem, it was just Camelot. [...] I have great feelings for the University of Kentucky because I had eight great years – they treated me great. Now, they no longer treat me great, but they did then.
- On the NCAA: The NCAA has gotten better in the last two years than 33 of my other years. They’ve loosened up the rulebook, they’re listening more. And I think they realize in the back of their minds [...] the NCAA better look at some of these schools breaking away. Like we got blindsided in the Big East, those people are going to realize that, listen, we can make more money by being outside of the NCAA. So sooner or later the colleges are going to say ‘let’s break away from this and we’ll have our own rules.’