Louisville assistant coach Kevin Williard was all but annointed the new head man at the University Of Delaware, only to have the offer rescinded over concerns about a DUI conviction two years ago. Willard’s current boss, Rick Pitino, takes considerable offense, writes The Courier-Journal’s Eric Crawford.

“They were all impressed with his honesty off the first question asked,” Pitino said. “He had a great interview. They called me up and said he blew them away, and I said, ‘I told you.’ And then he was offered the job. He wanted a day to think about it, talk it over with his wife. (Yesterday) morning he got the contract, e-mailed the contract, a letter of agreement, basically.”

Pitino said Willard (above) went over the agreement with him and was planning a news conference for tomorrow. Pitino said that an hour later Willard got a call from Roselle saying that after he had recommended the hiring to the trustees, he got several e-mails expressing concern about the DUI.

“They pulled the contract and everything,” Pitino said.

Initially, officials at Delaware would not confirm or deny Pitino’s account yesterday. Later, however, athletic director Edgar Johnson told the Wilmington News Journal that he began to have his own reservations about Willard after the job was offered.

“All night long I kept thinking about it,” Johnson said. “We just said he’s a fine young man, but you bring in a person with a DUI to our campus as a coach (pause) that’s not the image the university wants to project.”

Pitino called Delaware’s stance “unforgiving.”

“What happened was a mistake, and he owned up to it,” he said. “For this to be pulled from him is very disappointing. And I hope the board at Delaware, I hope they can look themselves in the mirror and I hope they don’t live in any glass houses.

“They just missed out on one of the finest basketball coaches I’ve witnessed in my life. But more important than that, they missed the opportunity to be around one of the finest people I’ve encountered in my life.”

Wally Backman was unavailable for comment.