Pitino's extension could boost recruiting

Louisville wants Rick Pitino to retire a Cardinal, offering a four-year extension to his current contract Wednesday that will make him the Cardinals coach through 2017. That news could give a boost to Louisville's recruiting efforts, particularly with the Class of 2011.

Louisville made clear its plans Wednesday during a meeting of the ULAA that it plans to keep Rick Pitino around until the 57-year old coach is ready to retire.

Pitino agreed to a four-year extension to his current contract that runs through 2013 which would make him the Louisville coach through the 2017 season.

Pitino recently completed his ninth season at Louisville. The Cardinals finished the season 20-13 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to California after advancing to the Elite Eight the previous two seasons. He guided the Cardinals to the NCAA Final Four in 2005 and won the Big East title last season.

In the past year, Pitino has been linked to two NBA jobs in various news reports. Last spring, Pitino's name came up in connection with the Sacramento Kings job. More recently, Pitino denied a report that his intermediaries had reached out to the New Jersey Nets about their available coaching job. Pitino's new extension should end speculation that he's looking for a way out of Louisville.

"I'm delighted that I'm going to end my career at the University of Louisville," Pitino said, according to a published report at the Courier-Journal.

The extension could have a major impact on recruiting, reassuring prospects that Pitino would be the Louisville coach for the next seven years. Pitino is currently putting together a blockbuster 2011 recruiting class. The Cardinals already have commitments from two five-star recruits – C Michael Chandler and SG Wayne Blackshear. Pitino also has commitments from Zach Price and Ryan Taylor, a pair of Top 75 prospects.

The big question, will Pitino's new extension spur a commitment from top recruit Marquis Teague? Louisville is viewed as the heavy favorite to land the five-star point guard from Indiana and Wednesday's announcement could have a major impact on Teague's decision.

Pitino was set to receive a $3.6 million loyalty bonus on July 1, 2010, but the ULAA approved a revision of his current contract that moves payment up to April, 1. Pitino's original contract also called for the same loyalty bonus if he is the coach at UofL on July 1, 2013. Pitino will earn $2.5 million next season.

With a new extension, Pitino should be armed to elevate Louisville back into a national contender. Louisville will open their spectacular 22,000 seat downtown arena on the riverfront next season and have recently added practice and player living facilities that rival any college program nationally.

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