Louisville Fires AD Tom Jurich With Cause; Fans, Department React With Sympathy
Louisville AD Tom Jurich yesterday was "fired with cause" after a 10-3 vote by the school's BOT, according to a front-page piece by Jeff Greer of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. None of the trustees "spoke when offered the chance in the meeting, and none answered questions from reporters." Papa John's Pizza Founder & CEO John Schnatter, a trustee who has "had tension with Jurich in the past, said as he left the meeting that he would not comment on his vote to fire Jurich." Louisville interim President Greg Postel "sought to assure Louisville's fan base that Jurich's firing doesn't represent a change of status for the athletics department." A statement from interim AD Vince Tyra "seconded" the sentiment. Postel: "Athletics will not take a backseat. We're bullish on athletics" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/19). Jurich's lawyers said that they "were 'disheartened' by his firing and vowed to defend his rights and reputation moving forward" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/19). Also in Louisville, Danielle Lerner notes Jurich "evoked an outpouring of sympathy -- but not shock -- from others in the school's athletic department" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/19).
MUM'S THE WORD: In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes if Jurich was a "sympathetic figure" among many UL fans as of yesterday morning, he "must be approaching martyrdom by now." After two transformative decades as the architect of an athletic department that has "reshaped the landscape and the national profile of his school ... Jurich has lost his job without a clear and coherent explanation." If Jurich was "held responsible for the various scandals rooted in the basketball program and refused to save himself" by firing basketball coach Rick Pitino, "no one has said so for the record." If Jurich’s ouster was the "result of a communications breakdown during his negotiations with Adidas, as described in the formal letter laying out his administrative leave, that hardly feels like a for-cause firing offense." If Jurich is "gone because of an accumulation of issues or a prickly personality" or simply because Louisville "wanted to put a new face forward following years of turbulence and embarrassment, someone in power ought to be able to say so." Instead, fans are being "treated like children in need of the paternalistic guidance of grown-ups who presume to know better and whose reasoning begins and ends with, 'Because I said so.'" For a school that has "often treated transparency as if it were a communicable disease, this was a bad look" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/19).
EXIT INTERVIEW: Speaking with ESPN's Jay Bilas, Pitino said that the "university he knows is not represented by the trustees that he believed moved prematurely against him." Pitino: "To me, this board of trustees, locking me out of my office, telling me I'm dismissed before facts came out. Let it develop. They're not the University of Louisville. They're a board hired by the governor to deal with the president situation a while ago. They're not the University of Louisville that I know. ... The University of Louisville didn't treat me that way. This board of trustees did -- and a couple of them. I shouldn't put them all in one lump sum." The COURIER-JOURNAL's Greer notes Pitino again "denied any knowledge of wrongdoing by his assistants" in the college hoops bribery scandal. When asked if he wanted to return to coaching, Pitino said, "I don't know. I'm not sure I want to" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/19).