Charleston head coach Pat Kelsey reacts during the first half...

Charleston head coach Pat Kelsey reacts during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Alabama in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024. Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has reached an agreement with College of Charleston coach Pat Kelsey to become the Cardinals’ next men’s basketball coach, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been formally approved. Louisville has scheduled a news conference for Thursday at its practice facility.

Jeff Goodman of Field of 68 first reported the hire.

Kenny Payne, a first-time head coach, was fired by Louisville on March 13 after going 12-52 the last two seasons at his alma mater. It marked the worst two-year stretch in the storied program's history and capped its third consecutive losing season after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2021.

The 48-year-old Kelsey will become Louisville’s third head coach, and fifth overall, since the school fired Hall of Famer Rick Pitino in October 2017 in the wake of a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball. It’s the second men’s basketball hire for Cardinals athletic director Josh Heird, and after the disastrous results under Payne, brings higher expectations of returning to relevancy.

But unlike Payne, Kelsey brings experience and a record of coaching success at Charleston and Winthrop.

He was named Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year this past season after guiding the Cougars to a 27-8 record and their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. They lost to fourth-seeded Alabama 109-96 in last week’s first round as the No. 13 seed.

Charleston head coach Pat Kelsey signals his team during the...

Charleston head coach Pat Kelsey signals his team during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Alabama in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024. Credit: AP/Young Kwak

Kelsey is 74-27 in three seasons with Charleston, which won consecutive CAA regular-season and tournament championships and automatic NCAA bids. His 2022-23 squad was 31-4 and ranked as high as 18th in the AP Top 25.

He’s 261-122 over 12 seasons as coach at Charleston and Winthrop, which won four Big South Conference regular-season titles and three tournament crowns from 2016-2021. Kelsey previously worked as a Wake Forest assistant and Xavier associate head coach.

Several names had emerged as possible candidates since Payne’s firing. The list included Baylor’s Scott Drew and Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May, who accepted the job at Michigan over the weekend. New Mexico’s Richard Pitino, son of former longtime Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, Seton Hall’s Shaheen Holloway and Indiana State's Josh Schertz emerged in recent days as targets.

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