The thoughts & words written by Jeff Nunn do not necessarily reflect the views of CardinalSportsZone.com
Rick Pitino was the first person to say, ”Louisville First, Cards Forever.” He said that the University, as well as himself, need to be reborn or rebranded so he came up with the slogan. He said that players needed to play for the name on the front of the jersey rather than only being concerned with the name on the back.
The University of Louisville Athletics Department quickly adopted the slogan and in March of 2012, launched a campaign that encouraged fans to use the slogan – “Louisville First, Cards Forever” and #L1C4 (Twitter hashtag) on all their social media.
Tom Jurich said, “The pride we have in our University goes beyond the championships and embodies the commitment we have made to all of our student-athletes and fans, Our student-athletes want to play for the name on the front of the jersey, and our fans are loyal Cardinal followers. We are so proud of our student-athletes for what they have accomplished on and off the field. They have represented this University with class and dignity.”
Cardinal faithful were not receptive of the slogan at first but over time it caught on and we bought into it. ”Louisville First, Cards Forever,” is now a way of life.
Rick Pitino has used this slogan over and over again as it applies to specific situations that he and his team have been associated with. Pitino has not recruited kids because he said they were not ” Louisville kids,” meaning they were not willing to put the school before their needs or wants (AKA, kids just wanted to get to the NBA). He has asked players to transfer because they’re not willing to put Louisville first.
At the beginning of the book scandal, Pitino said they were going to be transparent and be accountable for the schools actions even though he knew nothing about it. He said he was willing to do this because it’s about putting Louisville first.
Everything Pitino has preached over the past 5 years is about putting Louisville first and yesterday he had the opportunity to put Louisville first by stepping down as head basketball coach. Not only would stepping down possibly help with the current NCAA violations, it could have helped the University in their decision as it pertains to the employment of athletic director Tom Jurich.
Pitino could have helped his friend. A friend who stood by his side through Pitino’s own personal misconduct. A friend who stood by his side while his team committed NCAA violations under his watch. A friend who has helped put his team in a brand new arena. A friend who has gone to bat for him in any and every way possible. Jurich has been Pitino’s biggest supporter all the way to the end.
And Pitino had a chance to resign so he wouldn’t have to put his friend in a bad position – He did not.
Pitino had a chance to put Louisville First - He did not.
He was only concerned about the name on the back.
Ironically, Jurich’s ultimate undoing was putting his friendship with Pitino first instead of putting Louisville first.
Just because the originator of the slogan didn’t follow all the way through to the end with it, doesn’t mean we need to abandon it.
As unfortunate as the situation is, this is an opportunity for Cardinal faithful to come together as one and remind everyone what it means to be “Louisville First, Cards Forever.” Together, we will endure!
As Always, GO CARDS!