AUDIO 📻 Ky. Attorney General Andy Besmear appeared on WHAS Radio with me to talk about Louisville’s murder rate, anonymity for young felons, cops in JCPS schools, Gov. Matt Bevin involvement with the UofL board firing Tom Jurich, the Western Union settlement, and more #kypolitics
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin joined me on 840WHAS for a wide-ranging interview on: expanded gambling to bolster pensions, sexual harassment among Kentucky legislators, being alone with a woman, was his UofL board of trustees correct in firing Tom Jurich, a potential LouCity FC stadium, Kentucky outpacing Indiana, tax perks, imbibing, and would he consider being a running mate to Mike Pence in 2020.
Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino have both been fired with cause. Pitino’s sixteen year term was burdened by multiple scandals. That’s cause. More litigation to come as Pitino’s lawyer promised “a bare knuckle fight.”
Earlier today, Jurich was offered a relatively miniscule buyout if he resigned before the University of Louisville board of trustees voted to fire him. He declined the offer and was then told the school is considering filing a lawsuit against him. No other details were given.
Legal teams for both Pitino and Jurich were given very short appearances before the boards. Pitino lawyer Steve Pence said he had “a well prepared and solid one hour presentation” at Monday’s hearing yet there wasn’t “a single question from the board.”
After just 9 minutes before the board today, Jurich’s legal team remained outside Grawemeyer Hall for hours until the final decision was rendered. By a vote of 10-3, Jurich’s services were terminated with cause.
The Jurich legal team issued a gracious statement that offers thanks to all supporters but ends:
“With that said, Tom has instructed us to vigorously defend his rights and reputation under his long-standing contract with the University of Louisville.”
Meanwhile, the board of trustees moves ahead with well-loved David Padgett as acting coach, and successful businessman Vince Tyra as acting athletics director.
Both great guys, both with yeoman’s work ahead of them serving the administration and fan base.
UofL long ago gained peer status with the University of Kentucky. Just as Florida has to recognize the strength of Florida State, Oklahoma with Oklahoma State, and Alabama with Auburn, the worry today is that Louisville shrinks to a city school like Cincinnati compared to Ohio State.
And that’s not really about athletics, it’s about state funding, research grants, and alum donations. To borrow a football phrase, feed the studs.
Why oust Jurich over repeat problems with one coach out of 23 major teams? Because he refused to fire Pitino when directed to do so multiple times this summer. This was long before the FBI’s shoe company money investigation was revealed.
I talked about it on ESPN’s Outside the Lines in late September.
Who pushed the agenda? Gov. Matt Bevin recently told me that he does not direct his university board appointees in any way. “I appoint competent, successful people on those boards…I do not tell them how to vote on any issue.”
The guy directing these UofL personnel decisions is board chair David Grissom, 82, taking over the post last January. His “clean the house” strategy has set the university on a path of financial struggles that will likely linger long after his death.
He began mopping up multiple money messes in the foundation and academic departments. Fragging the athletics department gained steam as the year wore on.
Jurich ran a surging athletics department that exponentially grew the value and prominence of University of Louisville athletics. A school that used to play conference foes Drake, North Texas State, and St. Louis now enjoys ACC rivalries with Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State.
Previous UofL administrators were impressed by Jurich’s success and used it to shine light on the rest of the university. Presidents John Shumaker, James Ramsey, Neville Pinto, and current interim President Greg Postel also threw shade at Jurich. Most were miffed that Jurich ran what he considered an autonomous athletics department.
At the August celebration for the $160 million deal with Adidas, the head table featured Jurich, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Governor Bevin, business superstar Junior Bridgeman, and two executives from the shoe company. Interim President Greg Postel was three tables away in relative obscurity.
Oh, there’ll be no more seating smackdowns going forward.
What happens now? City pride dives even further. Attention wanes. Hey look! There’s a soccer stadium going up over there!
UofL’s administration is in full control again but devaluation of Cardinal athletics is sure to follow just as LouCity FC’s stock rises.
Jurich successfully corralled more advertising dollars and sponsorships tied to UofL athletics than ever before. Arena and stadium personal seat licenses, ticket prices, and adjacency sponsorships are at bloated rates. Think Dow 25,000.
Job 1 for Vince Tyra is convincing fans, advertisers, school donors, and boosters to keep paying the current rates.
But will that happen with an elongated step down in performance? Why would an advertiser who was pushed to pay $50,000 for an arena sign + program ad + stadium announcement of sponsorship pay that now? How about $8,000 instead? How about $5,000?
And there is this: In 2010, Yum Brands signed a bargain priced 10 year arena naming rights deal that is not expected to be renewed. Leadership at Yum Brands continues shipping its top management and muscle to Dallas as its investment in Louisville slips.
Taxpayers were originally promised that naming rights would fetch $40 million. Yum got it for $13.5 million. Plus, the TIF is a stiff.
When available in 2020, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is the most likely candidate to rename the arena for his pizza company. Schnatter craftily waited for a fire sale price on naming rights for the football stadium back in 1998.
If the NCAA comes to strike down the 2013 UofL championship banner and even kill off men’s basketball for a season, imagine the economic impact on both the school and the city. Downtown restaurants and boutiques are choked out. Bars get a lot less traffic.
The arena debt issue has been patched for the short term but payments will soon double when the loan principle comes due. Vastly reduced revenues mean vastly increased pressure on the taxpayers.
Get ready to hitch your belt. No matter how you feel about the power swap at UofL, we will all feel its pinch soon enough.
One last thought on the board of trustees. Shouldn’t all of them have some skin in the game?
Lexington Herald Leader sports writer Jerry Tipton did not allow University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari to wriggle out of media questions about the FBI shoe company pay-for-play scandal. When Calipari sidestepped KSR’s Matt Jones inquiring about the loss of Cal’s rivalry with Rick Pitino, Tipton pressed Calipari to reassure Big Blue Nation that UK has nothing to worry about now that NIKE is being investigated.
Instead of denying any involvement, Calipari gave no such assurance to BBN. Coach Cal said that he wouldn’t comment beyond saying that neither the FBI or the NCAA has contacted UK.
It was a golden moment for Coach Cal to “swear on the lives of my children” that he knows nothing of shoe company pay-for-play deals. But he didn’t. Some of his players said there is nothing to worry about but the coach didn’t dispel worries for the fan base. So the question hangs.
Jerry Tipton just checked John Calipari.
"This is a media day, not coach day." pic.twitter.com/R6Pf718dbn
— Clayton Abernathy (@ClaySTV1) October 12, 2017
No denial. Just like Louisville. Except Louisville is already drowning in scandal and the FBi has connected the school to, at the very least, observing a transfer of money from Adidas to parents of at least one recruit.
On the September 29 edition of Outside the Lines on ESPN, I was asked about Rick Pitino‘s phone calls to an indicted Adidas executive and another question about the general mood in Louisville. OTL host Bob Ley was completely taken aback by my revelation that Tom Jurich refused to fire Rick Pitino when asked multiple times by University of Louisville interim President Greg Postel.
Now Pitino’s attorney says they will appear on October 16 to state his case. It could be via video link but whatever the stage, Pitino is out and now just wrestling for severance. Coach P told me two weeks ago that his $44 million buyout was solid but that’s not the case. The school has a strong case to fire him for just cause and give him nothing beyond this final plea.
Tom Jurich will not return to UofL. He is telling friends that there is no way he can go back to work for an administration that has debased him. Jurich will have his pick of some of the best athletics director jobs in America.
The Courier-Journal has informed me that they are preparing a thorough profile piece on Dr. Postel and noted my insights in previous blogs on this site. I have no idea if they will be included but I can say that I do not know Dr. Postel and truly wish him the best if he indeed becomes president.
Governor Matt Bevin told me again yesterday that he does not push board of trustees chairman David Grissom or any other board member to vote yea or nay on any issue. Bevin says it is up to the board to decide the fates of Jurich, Postel, and anyone else considered for top administrative posts at the university.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin popped by the WHAS Radio studios today. I was expecting him on the phone but he said he was speaking nearby and decided to make it a studio visit.
He stayed for three segments (a total of 45 minutes) as I ran through a litany of topics: the chaos at U of L, whether he controls decisions of its board of trustees, the future for suspended athletics director Tom Jurich, since Jurich raised $300 million and was paid $19m – how is that not a great ROI, snaring Amazon HQ2, coal vs EPA, casino gambling or marijuana to rescue pension collapse, Lil Andy Beshear, and a Twitter question from my son Simon.
I appreciate the governor hanging in for an extended chat.
Could Tom Jurich retain a position of authority at the University of Louisville? Yes. Don’t believe the denials. There is backstage maneuvering to examine that possibility.
More on that in a moment. First, let’s deal with the nuclear meltdown that rocked our world.
Since the University of Louisville’s ties to a funneled shoe money scandal rocked the basketball world, the commonwealth of Kentucky is soaking in schadenfreude – taking pleasure in the misery of others.
That’s the Jurich loyalty factor. “If he goes, I go.”
Well, Pitino is definitely gone after the FBI sting illustrates Louisville’s involvement in a pay-for-play scheme to benefit the family of recruit Brian Bowen. He told me that he is crushed by “being treated like a criminal” when door locks were changed “before I could get my personal belongings.” Pitino’s attorney says his client was not given the contracted 10 days notice to be heard before any action could be taken.
The acerbic segment of college basketball zealots and some Kentucky Wildcat fans are cautiously giddy enjoying Louisville’s agony while wondering if the FBI investigation will eventually crush Big Blue Nation and other power programs.
It was a shocking week that could lead to a complete reboot of college sports as we’ve known it. The NCAA allowed coaches, schools, pimps and thieves to use shoe company deals for exploiting athletes.
Now the ever popular David Padgett has been named as acting head coach just as practice begins for the new season. Padgett is a terrific person so nary a discouraging word arose with the announcement. Hang on, Kentucky Sports radio had to throw down some snark.
UofL will attempt to avoid paying any further monies to Pitino while attorney Steve Pence promises a “bare knuckle fight” over the coach’s $44 million buyout. Pence will likely file a lawsuit this week declaring that Pitino’s dismissal was done without the required advance notice.
Various Louisville executives are lobbying the interim President Greg Postel and Board of Trustees Chairman David Grissom to retain Jurich. Frosty relations between the three make that a long shot scenario.
Greg Fischer and Tom Jurich have a strained relationship from the mayor’s long running exploration of adding NBA basketball in Louisville.
Sources tell me that Gov. Matt Bevin is not a driving factor in any of this week’s maneuvers, but that it’s Grissom putting pressure on Postel to prove that he deserves the presidency.
Grissom claimed to have polled the board of trustees by phone to assess their support for firing Pitino and Jurich, thought to be a violation of sunshine laws. Now he’s thrown together an impromptu October 2nd board of trustees meeting to update board members.
Here’s Grissom’s top problem: how to keep money flowing into the University of Louisville’s nearly empty coffers.
— Terry Meiners (@terrymeiners) October 1, 2017
Jurich’s transformation of a sleepy metro conference UofL into an ACC powerhouse is the stuff of legend. And don’t kid yourself. College athletic departments are massive businesses that bolster cities in employment, tax revenue, and growth of nearby businesses (many of which are near death from the lack of a convention center).
Reduced interest in UofL basketball crushes values of TV/radio deals, seat licenses, tickets, and arena signage. The mortgage payments for the arena will soon double. At least red ink matches the school color scheme.
Jurich is a fierce competitor who demands loyalty but he is also a charming salesman who has raised hundreds of millions of dollars during his tenure.
Good luck to the man or woman who replaces him. Louisville, both the city and university, are dog paddling to make ends meet. So now Grissom wants to cut the throat of the best fundraiser and infrastructure builder in the city’s history?
Preposterous. Grissom and Jurich are both bulldozers but the stoic Grissom is no match for Jurich’s ability to generate revenue from local businesses and well-heeled constituents.
If Grissom can dial his ego back many notches, cooler heads will prevail and Jurich will stay on as athletics director or chief fundraiser for the school.
UofL has already pushed Denny Crum and Darrell Griffith over the cliff. Don’t make the same mistake with Jurich. City schools rarely outperform giant state universities but this one has.
It’s been a slippery tightrope walk for me as a media person delivering news and opinion all while watching my friends Pitino and Jurich have their lives torn apart.
They ran what amounts to a Fortune 500 company that benefits the city of Louisville and taxpayers statewide. Nonetheless, the cumulative effect of three major scandals over the past few years can’t be ignored. It hurts the city’s image beyond measure.
My sleepless nights are rooted in pain for my buddies, sadness over UofL’s diminished ability to attract the best and brightest researchers and students, and the financial bloodbath.
Let’s get to work. Ls up. Heads held high. Never ever turn away from your friends in difficult times.
I appreciate all of the people who sent me texts and emails thanking me for representing our city well on ESPN and national publications. All we can do is move forward and work to improve our place in this world.
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) September 28, 2017
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has had it up to here with Attorney General Andy Beshear. Last week, Bevin directed many state agencies to cut budgets by 17.4%. Beshear claims the governor is breaking the law by replenishing the state’s nearly depleted rainy day fund.
The governor and attorney general are regular guests on my radio show. It just so happened that today was the governor’s scheduled monthly appearance. He was loaded for bear.
Andy Beshear’s next scheduled radio appearance is September 19th at 4:10 PM on 840WHAS.
See you then.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin texted that he was nearby and wanted to tell me something. It turned out that he was still buzzing from just visiting the gold depository at Fort Knox and wanted to tell my radio audience about it.
Bevin, invited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin, is the only governor to ever visit the gold depository. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only commander in chief to visit the vault and Mnuchin only the third treasury boss to personally inspect America’s safety deposit box.
Bevin gave the WHAS Radio audience a fairly comprehensive accounting of the vault’s contents, last opened for inspection in 1974.
Bevin had already had a pretty solid day, flying a helicopter with his old Army buddy over Hopkinsville, a totality zone for the day’s solar eclipse. Once Mnuchin’s people contacted him about the vault opportunity, Bevin redirected the flight to Fort Knox.
The Kentucky governor was impressed with the gold bars, coins, and other precious contents of the vault but was quick to point out that its “few hundred billion dollars” in value is “approximately 1% of our total federal debt.”
He wouldn’t talk about the complicated entry system but joked that, combined with a total solar eclipse, it seemed like a setup for a new version of the James Bond heist film Goldfinger.
Here’s the governor talking about potential expansion of Toyota’s manufacturing presence, his victory in the PVA assessment of his home, misdirected media, pension pressure, and tax changes to retain wealth. As for the possibility of facing Attorney General Andy Beshear in the 2019 gubernatorial race: “To me that would be fantastic. He is not even competent as an attorney general.”
Congressman Yarmuth talked about North Korea’s nuclear threats toward the U.S., President Trump’s reply that America would bring “fire and fury never before seen in the world,” congressional health care camaraderie, and whether VP Mike Pence is sincere in claiming that he is not considering a 2020 run for the presidency.
Greg Fischer, John Yarmuth, and Matt Bevin were on my radio show back-to-back-to-back today. The mayor and congressmen, both Democrats, discussed a variety of issues. The Republican governor had a significantly different strategy to solve societal problems.
AUDIO: Governor Matt Bevin on attacking the pension shortfall, bourbon tariffs, the Mike Pence visit, universal health care, handling haters on Twitter, and imitating Rambo at the Kentucky Speedway.
Now here is Rep. John Yarmuth on the Donald Trump Jr email chain with a Russian lawyer, Obamacare, media pursuit of Russia election interference, and renewed Democrat interest in universal health care.
Finally, here’s Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on his six point plan to reduce violence.