In the wake of all the “scandals,” poor decisions, lack of leadership and actions without integrity at the University of Louisville, many people lost their jobs, reputations were damaged, feeling were hurt and fans were divided.
It was a tough time and it seems that things are starting to take a turn in the right direction. But we can’t move forwards until we let go of the past – so it’s time to finally put an end to the Jurich era.
Out of all the people who were removed from their jobs during the time Louisville hit rock bottom, none was harder to deal with than the loss of Tom Jurich. The rest of them 100% had to be removed from their positions if the University was to move forward (and it’s not open for debate).
There are still people who believe with every fiber of their being that Jurich did nothing wrong and should still have his job. There are also people who believe he is an evil man who cheated and manipulated everyone who he came in contact with.
Well, you are both wrong.
I’d like you all to take a step back and look at this objectively.
For the past 20 years, Tom Jurich has been as loyal as they come to the University of Louisville. We have all witnessed the campus grow in ways none of us could ever imagined. He had a vision like no other and his “build it and they will come” mentality, brought things to Louisville I never thought could happen. His facilities attracted great coaches who brought in top-level talent. I mean, our soccer team was playing for a national championship. Our women’s basketball team did too. Our baseball team seems like it has a yearly RSVP to the college world series. I witnessed a Heisman Trophy winner wearing a Louisville Cardinal uniform. The lions share of credit goes to Tom for getting into the ACC (although I believe Teddy and Charlie were the tipping point – but that’s a topic for another day). Louisville also became the top Adidas school with a monster financial deal, as negotiated by Jurich.
And that’s just naming a few of his accomplishments.
But these are all things that were seen publicly. What was going on behind the scenes that helped enable some of these great accomplishments? Truthfully, we will never know everything but what we do know is that some of these tremendous achievements were done unethically and immorally. There was money taken from academics that went towards athletics, his salary as well as his sons salary. Were they deserving of those salaries? Probably so, but it’s unethical to take money from academics. There were accusations of bullying by local media and some former staff. There were the ignored letters and calls about the abuse of student athletes by a lacrosse coach. There were some power struggles with the city over the Yum Center. Did he or did he not refuse to fire the basketball coach? There were questionable real estate deals between the Jurich family and UofL. There were a lot of questions about how he ran things and how they are supposed to be run.
Most say he ran the athletic department like a business instead of a college but let’s be honest here – college athletics is a business.
But that still doesn’t excuse you from ethics, morals an honesty.
An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016. Compare that to the $854,000 average salary of the top 3 ACC athletic directors.
I know he didn’t do anything against the law or break any NCAA rules and I don’t have a problem with his firing. It was just handled wrong by a bunch of inept ding dongs. It was a tough call to fire him but I understand why it happened.
Here is what I believe and how I would have handled it …
I believe that Jurich is the best athletic director in all the land. I also believe he loved the University like it was his own son. I know for sure that president Ramsey gave him too much power. And he used that power to protect and help better the University like any of us would for our own children. I think that with all the success and power, he may have gotten a little too arrogant and his win at all cost approach became contagious and ultimately is what brought down the men’s basketball team. Sometimes that untouchable cavalier attitude can cause you to be careless and backfire on you.
And if it were up to me. I would have given him 90 days to fix the financial mess he created or else be terminated.
Unfortunately for Louisville fans, I was not making those decisions. It was the decision of people who most feel didn’t really know what they were doing. I don’t believe all the NBA theories or other misguided thoughts that he was the victim of a witch hunt – although the board made it seem like it at times.
So now the two sides have settled and Jurich has $7 million – $4.5 million in a settlement, plus another $2.7 million in deferred and retirement pay he had accrued while employed, 8 premium home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years, healthcare for him and is wife and the freedom to do whatever he wants.
It seems to me that the University decided it was cheaper to pay him than to fight it out in court. I also believe that, while the University had a few things on Jurich that have not been made public yet, he too has some things he could reveal that would be damning to the University. And we all know that Louisville can’t afford anymore negative attention.
So in the end, it hurts losing Jurich but what is done, is done. It’s over. Time to move on. It would be so much harder to move on if Louisville didn’t have Vince Tyra. But rest at ease Card fans, Vince has a vision just like Tom did. But Vince has the luxury of all the amenities that Jurich left behind to help his cause. Louisville didn’t fire Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the Yum Center, Lynn Stadium or Cardinal Park. They fired 1 man.
I know Tom still loves Louisville and my hope is that one day everything will be brought to light and all will be forgiven. Maybe someday down the road he could be honored for his dedication.
Until then, let’s focus on what we have and try to get back to the top – but let’s do it the right way.
As always, GO CARDS!