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Pitino Named Kentucky Sportsman of the Year

Head coach Rick Pitino is the 33rd Kentucky Sportsman of the Year.

Head coach Rick Pitino is the 33rd Kentucky Sportsman of the Year.

Jan. 30, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino is the 2013 Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year in a vote of media members from around the state that was announced Thursday evening at the Bluegrass Sports Awards in Lexington.

In becoming the 33rd Kentucky Sportsman of the Year, Pitino made history. He is the first person to win the award three times, having earned it in 1990 and 1996 while with Kentucky. Pitino is also the first person to win Sportsman of the Year as a representative of both UK and U of L.

Much like the Louisville athletic department, Pitino had an unforgettable season and one that's unlikely to be replicated. The head coach led Louisville to the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles and then the school's third NCAA championship with a victory over Michigan in the title game. The school set a record for victories, finishing the year at 35-5.

During Louisville's stay in Atlanta for the Final Four, Pitino was announced as a member of the 2013 class to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was enshrined into the prestigious hall in September.

Outside of basketball, Goldencents, a horse Pitino co-owned, won the Santa Anita Derby and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The horse even started in the Kentucky Derby.

The overall strength of U of L's 2013 was on display in the Sportsman of the Year voting. Louisville Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich finished second, while the Cardinals' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was third. Former football head coach Charlie Strong and men's basketball guard Russ Smith also finished in the top 10 in voting.

Jurich actually had more first-place votes (44) than Pitino (38).

A record 136 state media members submitted ballots. Of those, 103 voted a Louisville figure first. Five U of L representatives finished in the top 10 and nine in the top 25.