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The Louisville meltdown – bare knuckle fights, sleepless nights

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.

Rick Pitino is out. Tom Jurich is out (for now) after once again refusing to fire Pitino.

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.

Powerful people do rub some people the wrong way. More than a few national writers are euphoric over the firings.

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.

Hall of Fame Coach Pitino says he has no knowledge of any money being paid to any of his recruits or their families. “I miss my players so much,” he wrote in a text.

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.

Joon Kim, acting U.S. Attorney for southern New York state details criminal complaints in a pay-for-play scheme

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.

J David Grissom

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.

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.

iHeart Media VP Earl Jones, WHAS’ Terry Meiners, WDRB GM Bill Lamb, and UofL VP Tom Jurich (2017)

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.

Great Day Live, October 2014


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.

dad. husband. observer. media personality. pathological flyer.