Pat Kelsey, the new men’s basketball head coach at the University of Louisville (image courtesy UofL Athletics)
Pat Kelsey, the new men’s basketball head coach at the University of Louisville. Photo by UofL Athletics.

Pat Kelsey, a proven program builder who’s won nearly 70% of his career games, has been named the new men’s basketball head coach at the University of Louisville, Director of Athletics Josh Heird announced Thursday, March 28.

Kelsey’s contract with the Cardinals will be for five years, extending through the 2028-29 season. The University of Louisville Athletic Association Board of Directors approved the terms of his contract Thursday afternoon.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Pat Kelsey as our new men’s basketball coach,” Heird said. “Pat has proven his ability to build multiple programs to an elite level. He garners great respect as a coach, manager, communicator and motivator who will build strong bonds with his student-athletes, coaches and our fan base. Pat understands the expectations of this storied program and will attack this opportunity with unmatched enthusiasm and work ethic. We’re looking forward to having him, his wife Lisa and their children become part of the best community in college athletics.”

Kelsey has been a dominant winner across his 12 seasons as a head coach, including the last three at College of Charleston and the previous nine at Winthrop. He boasts an impressive 261-122 record (68.1%) across his head coaching career with 11 total conference championships and four NCAA Tournament bids.

The Cincinnati native Kelsey will be the 24th head coach in Louisville’s 110-year history, and the 10th in the past 79 years.

“I am humbled and honored to be named the head coach at the University of Louisville,” Kelsey said. “I would like to thank Josh Heird, President Schatzel, the Board of Trustees and ULAA Board, former UofL players and all of Card Nation for entrusting me to lead one of the great programs in all of college basketball. Coaching giants that I have tremendous respect and reverence for led Cardinal basketball to national prominence during their era. It is my charge to help this great program return to its rightful place as one of college basketball’s best.”

This season, College of Charleston finished 27-8, claimed the Colonial Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles, and earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament before falling to fourth-seeded Alabama.

The Cougars became the first team in seven years to win back-to-back Colonial titles. Kelsey was named the league’s Coach of the Year, in addition to three All-CAA player honors and a Sixth Man of the Year award for Bryce Butler.

College of Charleston ranks in the top 25 nationally this season in 3-point attempts per game (3rd, 30.6), made 3-pointers per game (8th, 10.5), bench points per game (11th, 30.1), winning percentage (18th, 77.1), rebounds per game (20th, 39.8), assist-to-turnover ratio (22nd, 1.5) and offensive rebounds per game (23rd, 13.1).

During his second season at the helm in Charleston, the Cougars set numerous records with a 31-4 mark and the program’s first CAA title since 2008. They won 20 straight games, claimed the 2022 Charleston Classic and spent four weeks in the AP Top 25, peaking at No. 18. Kelsey was named the USBWA and NABC District Coach of the Year, and was on the Naismith Coach of the Year Watch List.

Kelsey arrives in Charleston from Winthrop, where he became the fifth all-time winningest coach in the history of the Big South Conference. He averaged 20.7 wins per game in nine seasons in Rock Hill, S.C., compiling more overall wins and conference wins than any other team in the league.

In his final season at Winthrop, Kelsey guided the Eagles to a 23-2 campaign, a school-record 21-game win streak, a Big South tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament where they fell to Villanova. Kelsey was named 2021 Big South Coach of the Year.

Kelsey also led Winthrop to NCAA Tournament berths in 2020 (canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and 2017.

A two-time finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award and finalist for the 2021 Jim Phelan Coach of the Year Award, Kelsey compiled a 186-95 (.662) overall record and an impressive 110-46 (.705) mark in conference play at Winthrop. The Eagles also won the Big South regular-season title four times in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021.

In all, 16 Winthrop players were selected all-conference, while three were tabbed Big South Player of the Year, one Big South Freshman of the Year and two Big South Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Prior to Winthrop, Kelsey served as associate head coach at his alma mater Xavier from 2009-11. Before that, he worked at Wake Forest as assistant coach (2004-09) and director of basketball operations (2001-04). He began his coaching career at Elder High School in Cincinnati as an assistant from 1998-2001.

Kelsey graduated cum laude in 1998 from Xavier University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing. He began his collegiate playing career at the University of Wyoming, before transferring and playing three seasons at point guard for the Musketeers from 1995-98.

Kelsey and his wife, Lisa, have three children: Ruthie, Caroline and Johnny.

Read more on the UofL Athletics website.