By Derek DeBurger

This is a breaking story and will be updated as necessary.

Kenny Payne is officially out as the head coach of Louisville’s men’s basketball program, University of Louisville Athletic Director Josh Heird announced Wednesday.

“The past several years have been challenging for our Men’s Basketball program, and although change can be difficult, it is time to begin the search for new leadership. We have extremely high aspirations for our storied program, and we will not shy away from our pursuit of championships. We are very grateful to Coach Payne for returning to Louisville, and for bringing his passion for Cardinal basketball into every aspect of his coaching,” Heird said in an email Wednesday.

The separation now initiates an $8 million buyout per Payne’s contract.

When Payne was hired in 2022, he was the can’t-miss candidate that the media lauded and the fanbase wanted. Payne brought with him to Louisville a respect from established coaching circles, a proven track record of high-level recruiting and player development, and a reunification of generations of Louisville fans.

Payne had little to no off-the-court issues; arguably, the biggest missteps were his poor interactions with the media and mishandling of the dismissal of Koron Davis.

Payne went 12-52 in his two seasons at Louisville, including 5-37 in ACC games and 1-28 in games away from the KFC Yum! Center.

His .187 winning percentage is the seventh worst in Division-I basketball over the past two seasons, and the worst in the history of high-major basketball. Payne’s two seasons were the two worst seasons in program history and were not up to the standard of a high-major program, let alone one of Louisville’s stature.

Louisville is now actively searching for a new head coach.

Photo Courtesy // Vinny Porco, The Louisville Cardinal