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Louisville's Chris Mack after viral maskless celebration video: 'I've got to do better'

Ryan Young
·Writer
·4-min read

Louisville coach Chris Mack was understandably excited after the Cardinals beat Kentucky on Dec. 26.

That rivalry matchup, obviously, means a lot throughout the entire state.

Yet a new viral video surfaced in recent days showing Mack celebrating maskless with others in his home after that win — something that hasn’t gone over well.

Mack: ‘I’ve got to do better’

Mack, in the video shared on social media Saturday night, is seen with former Louisville football player Eric Wood celebrating the win and playfully mocking former Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne.

Warning: The video contains brief language that is NSFW.

Mack explained the video on Monday after obvious backlash — which was mostly centered around the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither Wood nor Payne were wearing masks or observing basic social distancing guidelines during the video.

Mack said that he was having a Christmas celebration at his home that night before the program entered a three-day break, and that a few neighbors had stopped over.

"A few neighbors walked over to my house and they happened to be really, really good friends with Kenny Payne — golfing buddies, they go way back, hang out together,” Mack said, via the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I don't know Kenny that well, but Eric and his buddy [are] really, really good friends with Kenny. They thought it'd be funny to FaceTime him, text him, and give him grief for the game and that's what they did. And obviously it led to the video that was then sent to Kenny.

"And so that was the context. It was a private video, obviously. It's not private today. It's why I'm talking to you guys, but it was a joke amongst buddies to Kenny. How it got out, I have no idea and it's really irrelevant, although Kenny didn't get it out.”

Mack admitted that the video was “not a good look” — especially considering how coronavirus cases were spiking in record numbers across the country at the time of the video and that the program was fresh out of a coronavirus-related pause.

“When people come over to my house, which hasn't been very often since last March, I'm probably a violator and obviously was that night [when] neighbors or friends stopped by and not putting on my mask around the house,” Mack said, via the Courier-Journal. “Not a good look. And so for that, I've got to do better.”

Mack apologized to John Calipari

Mack, who is in his third season at Louisville, said he immediately called Kentucky coach John Calipari to “clear the air” after the video surfaced.

He didn’t want the message to get twisted in any way.

“The first thing I really thought of was Calipari,” Mack said, via the Courier-Journal. “I didn't want him to think it was some shot, that this was directed out to the World Wide Web and that I was trying to send a message to him. So that was the first person I called when I was aware of the video [Sunday] morning. I just wanted to be able to clear the air and tell him the great respect I have for him and his program and the job that he's done. And that's how I feel. I wanted him to know it was a joke to Kenny Payne and obviously went sideways.

"As I tell my players, when you do things that happen in the spotlight, you've got to own it. And fortunately by me, I own things. So I live and learn by them and we'll move forward. But that's sort of the context of the video. If I offended anybody, I feel bad for doing that but that wasn't what the intention was by any means.”

As for any potential discipline coming down — the university has been very strict about coronavirus protocols throughout the pandemic, and even dismissed three soccer players in August for violations — Mack said that isn’t his call.

He has spoken to athletic director Vince Tyra, but is just ready to move on.

"As I said, I made an error. It's not like I invited everybody over to a big party at the house," Mack said, via the Courier-Journal. "But [I'll] be a big boy and whatever comes my way comes my way."

Louisville head coach Chris Mack
Chris Mack was seen celebrating Louisville's win over Kentucky with neighbors at his home without a mask in a new video that surfaced last weekend. (AP/Keith Srakocic)

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