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Louisville’s search to find its next men’s basketball coach appears to be nearing its end.

Louisville is closing in on a deal to make College of Charleston coach Pat Kelsey the Cardinals’ next head coach, FOX Sports confirmed Wednesday. The Field of 68 first reported the news that the two sides were nearing a deal.

Several coaches had been linked to the Louisville opening after the program fired Kenny Payne back on March 13. Scott Drew and Dusty May were the most prominent names who were reported as candidates for the role, with Drew opting to stay at Baylor, while May left Florida Atlantic for Michigan. New Mexico coach Richard Pitino, who’s the son of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, was also reportedly floated as a candidate in recent days. 

Kelsey heads to Louisville with 12 seasons of head coaching experience under his belt, finding success at both the College of Charleston and Winthrop. He went 75-27 over three seasons at the College of Charleston, leading the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two years. He went 186–95 over his nine seasons at Winthrop, taking the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament twice and leading them to three conference tournament titles (2017, 2020, 2021).

In the middle of his tenure at Winthrop, Kelsey was hired as UMass‘ coach in 2017. However, he opted to return to Winthrop, informing UMass’ athletic director shortly before his introductory press conference that he was stepping down.

Prior to his two head coaching gigs, Kelsey served as Chris Mack’s lead assistant at Xavier for two seasons. Mack was Louisville’s head coach from 2018-22, going 63-36, but was fired in January 2022 following a six-game suspension earlier that season for breaking the school’s guidelines.

Similar to his former boss, Kelsey will look to bring one of college basketball’s most recognizable programs back to prominence after a rough ouster from the previous coach. Payne went just 12-52 in his two seasons at Louisville, with his four-win season in 2022-23 being the program’s worst year in modern history. 

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