Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he hopes current New York Knicks assistant Kenny Payne gets the Cardinals’ head coaching job.

“I’m think Kenny Payne can unite Louisville again,” Payne told college basketball insider Adam Zagoria. “I’m not endorsing him because that would probably be the killer for him. But I’m hoping Kenny Payne gets it because he can unite all factions of Louisville and that would be great. I don’t like to see any coach get fired, but I’m hoping for Kenny. He’s a great guy, a great recruiter, he’s a terrific coach. And if he wants it, I hope he gets it.”

Payne, a former Louisville standout from 1985-89, was most recently a college assistant coach at Kentucky. He served under John Calipari in Lexington from 2010-2020.

Payne has a reputation as an elite recruiter and now has nearly two seasons of NBA coaching experience under his belt.

As a Cardinal, he was a key bench player on Louisville’s 1986 National Championship-winning team. He averaged 14.5 points per game as a senior on Louisville’s 1988-89 team that made it to the Sweet 16.

Louisville is looking to replace Chris Mack, who was fired earlier this month after nearly four seasons at the helm. Louisville is 5-6 in ACC play this season.