Pitino offers job to Willard

Updated: June 3, 2009, 6:17 PM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has offered his vacant assistant position to Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard on Wednesday.

Willard is expected to give an answer to Pitino by June 10, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com.

"Yes, I have offered the position to Ralph," Pitino said in a statement released by Louisville. "I've also offered the last four openings we've had at Louisville to Ralph because he's always my number one choice. I do it every time and it's nothing new. I fully expect him to turn me down for the fifth straight time."

Willard and Pitino have been friends since attending the same high school on Long Island, N.Y. Willard has been an assistant to Pitino at two different stops: the New York Knicks and Kentucky. After one year at Kentucky, Willard began his collegiate head-coaching career at Western Kentucky before moving to Pittsburgh. He has been the head coach at Holy Cross for 10 years, compiling a 192-117 record and making four NCAA tournament appearances.

Although Willard would be surrendering a head-coaching position, he'd give Pitino the veteran presence that has been missing from his staff in recent years at Louisville -- since Willard's son, Kevin, left to become head coach at Iona.

Pitino is seeking to replace his son, Richard, who abruptly left Louisville in April for an assistant's job under Billy Donovan at Florida. The loss of the younger Pitino hit the Cardinals in recruiting, where he had made significant inroads in talent-rich Indianapolis. Since Richard Pitino's departure, Indianapolis Lawrence North High School's Justin Martin de-committed from the Cardinals.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.