Author Archive: Charlie Springer
Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.
Reassuring to see three of the community’s most influential leaders reaffirm their support for Jim Ramsey as the University of Louisville President in a letter to the Courier-Journal on Monday. Shouldn’t have been necessary in light of what has been accomplished at UofL under his leadership since 2002.
The letter was signed by Jim Patterson, founder of Rally’s and Long John Silver’s, David Jones, Sr., co-founder of Humana, Inc. and Bill Stone, president of Louisville Plate Glass. All three have served as members of UofL boards and have been active in many leadership roles in the community. They cited some examples of UofL’s progress during Ramsey’s administration:
— More Fulbright scholars than Harvard.
— Record ACT scores.
— 5,000 students living on campus.
— Admission into the exclusive Atlantic Coast Conference.
— A vastly expanded campus.
— A foundation worth $1 billion.
Some of these accomplishments were considered totally unrealistic when Ramsey was named President. They have been accompanied by major capital projects and beautification efforts while the University has assumed a dynamic leadership role in the community.
“Jim Ramsey has been the driving force behind this record growth of the most meaningful asset in our community, our hometown university,” they wrote, while acknowledging the university has some issues, as does “any complex organization with thousands of employees and hundreds of departments.”
The reason for the letter stems from criticism of Ramsey by Steve Wilson, a member of the Board of Trustees who has called for an audit of the University of Louisville Foundation, suggesting that the foundation should be administered by the university.
Wilson, who is chief executive officer of 21c Hotels, is a wealthy investor and self-professed environmentalist. He once proposed building a 62-story Museum Plaza on the riverfront in downtown Louisville. A groundbreaking ceremony was actually held in October of 2007, with then-Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson participating. The project lingered and died a few years later, failing to obtain essential governmental guarantees
He and his wife, Laura Brown, own Hermitage Farms in Goshen and hosted the Hermitage Grand Gala prior to this year’s Kentucky Derby. He also owns the Kentucky Bison Company.
Wilson also is a major political contributor, alternately listing his occupation as a farmer or hotel owner. He has given consistently to the Democrat party, including candidates John Yarmuth, Ben Chandler and Alison Grimes in recent years.
Coincidentally, it was Wilson who expressed some concern about the new John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the university, funded by gifts of $4.6 million from Schnatter and $1.6 million from Charles Koch, a well-known advocate of free enterprise and Republican causes. Ramsey also happens to be a Democrat, appointed by Gov. Paul Patton, but this had to be a source of irritation for Wilson.
It comes as no surprise that Wilson has been joined in his criticism by Craig Greenberg, as an attorney with Frost, Brown & Todd. Greenberg also is an employee of Wilson’s 21c Hotels company, serving as president of the company. A news release issued in January 2012 says Greenberg’s involvement with 21c Hotels began in 2001 “when he structured and sourced the financing for the flagship Louisville property.”
Wilson and Greenberg, as developers, are sometimes forced to compete with the UofL Foundation, which has become one of the largest real estate developers in Louisville. As UofL Trustee Jonathan Blue has stated, “a well-funded foundation that enjoys benefits unavailable to for-profit businesses, such as exemptions from property taxes.”
“I have to applaud U of L … They thought out of the box: ‘Lets get more revenue. Lets do this Nucleus building, to their credit…Lets essentially mirror a private development entity to land more revenue so we can offset tuition. Kudos to them.”
For Wilson and Greenburg to suggest that the UofL Foundation essentially be dissolved and folded into the university is not an action consistent with individuals supportive of the university. They fail to, or don’t want to, acknowledge what the foundation has made possible at UofL.
One would like to believe that Wilson and Greenberg have the university’s best interests in mind but, if they have genuine concerns, they have been muted in their disruptive approaches to the issues. Not surprising these days for some to want to do away with some that has done much good for the university, possibly for their own causes.
Jim Patterson, David Jones, Sr. and Bill Stone have been around the block a few times, recognizing what best for the University of Louisville and the community. Recognized as strong business and community leaders, they have broken their silence on an issue vital to the university’s continued progress.
Jim Ramsey has earned their respect and support, confident he will continue to lead UofL to new breakthroughs.
The University of Louisville enters the 2015 NCAA baseball tournament as the No. 3 seed, hosting a regional for a third straight season. Almost expected these days, but only because Louisville remains humble and hungry.
UofL also hosted the regional round of the NCAA Championship in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014 while also hosting super regionals in 2007 and 2014. This marks the Cardinals’ eighth NCAA postseason berth in the last nine seasons and the program’s ninth NCAA appearance overall.
Louisville will host No. 4 Morehead State on Friday at 6 p.m., following the game between No. 2 Bradley against No. 3 Michigan at 2 p.m.
The winner of Friday’s first round games will play on Saturday at 4 p.m., while the two losing teams will play an elimination game on Saturday at noon. The winner of Saturday’s elimination game will play the losing team from Saturday night’s winner’s bracket game in an elimination game on Sunday at noon, with the winner advancing to play the winner of Saturday night’s winner’s bracket game on Sunday at 4 p.m.
If needed, the two teams from Sunday’s second game will return for the final game of the Louisville Regional on Monday at 7 p.m.
A timely break for the University of Louisville baseball team, possibly just what it needs.
UofL is assured of hosting one of the 16 NCAA baseball regionals this week. Each regional will feature four teams in a double-elimination tournament that’s scheduled to start Friday and could last until June 1.
Other hosts are LSU, Illinois, Texas A&M, Miami, Dallas Baptist, TCU California State Fullerton, Florida, Houston, California Santa Barbara, UCLA, Missouri State, Oklahoma State and Florida State.
The regional pairings will be televised at Noon on Monday. An ESPNU crew will be on hand to get the players’ reaction and to interview Coach Dan McDonnell.
If UofL wins the regional, it would advance to the super regionals June 5-8, with each super-regional involving two teams that play a three-game series.
The winners of the super regionals advance to the College World Series, scheduled to be played June 13-24 in Omaha.
Baseball is a slow sport, always has been, with long, drawn out games.
The baseball park is a good place to relax without an interest in the outcome of the game. Like going to a Louisville Bats game, I couldn’t care less about who wins or loses at Slugger Field. Those games are simply an escape from the frantic pace of life. Great food, good people watching. The outcome of the game usually meaningless.
It’s a totally different atmosphere at Jim Patterson Field, however. The home team is wearing University of Louisville uniforms, adding a sense of urgency at every game. We identify closely with the players and the familiar faces in the crowd. Almost every game is at least three hours long, others much longer.
The slow pace of the games only adds to the tension, with lots of drama seemingly hanging on so many Louisville at-bats and opposing hitters. If UofL wins, every minute was worth it. Lose and it’s a downer, wasted investment in effort, emotion and drama.
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A month ago Kyle Funkhouser was cruising along with a 6-2 won-lost record. He has won only one game in May, however, and now stands at 7-5. The 6-foot-3 junior, eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in three weeks, has seen his earned run average almost double from 1.94 last season to 3.29 through his last game. He has a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts vs. ACC teams, three of which were UofL losses.
It has become painful, irritating and frustrating to witness the rapid decline in effectiveness, with Funkhouser struggling to find the strike zone in the early innings, giving up too many runs against good teams. He gets better as the game goes on, but by then it is too late for UofL to recover.
Despite Funkhouser’s problems, Coach Dan McDonnell has shown no inclination toward changing his starting pitcher rotation. Difficult situation for the coach with a player who had won 18 games against four losses coming into the season. The best outcome would be to see McDonnell rewarded for his loyalty. The other outcome not so pleasant.
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Sebastian Stiefelmeyer’s bid to become the top male tennis player came to an end Friday when he lost to Columbia University’s Winston Lin, 7-5 and 6-4 in the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in Waco, Texas.
Stiefelmeyer was 43-7 in singles competition overall and 10-2 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.
Silly question but if the University of Louisville and North Carolina meet only once this season, does that mean UofL just won another series?
Of course not, but it begged to be asked. Louisville won all 10 series against ACC teams during the regular season, you know.
Off to a good start in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball championship. UofL with a come from behind 7-4 win over the Tar Heels, spotting UNC with a 4-0 deficit after three innings.
Freshman Lincoln Henzman would relieve starter Sean Leland and throw six innings of three hits and scoreless baseball while his teammates were climbing all over the North Carolina pitching staff for seven runs, two in the fourth, one in the fifth, and four in the sixth. Henzman is now 5-1 on the season.
Brendan McKay showing the way with four hits, including a home run, a double and two singles while driving in two runs and scoring two runs himself.
Zach Burdi, in relief, wrapping his ninth save while disposing of all three North Carolina batters he faced in the ninth, averaging 97 miles per hour on his fast balls.
UofL will face Clemson Thursday at 3 p.m., with Kyle Funkhouser on the mound.
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UofL’s Sebastian Stiefelmeyer defeated California’s Andre Goransson 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship Wednesday at Baylor University.
The fifth-ranked Stiefelmeyer improves his overall singles record to 41-6 on the season. He advances to the second round to face Georgia’s No. 30 Austin Smith who upended South Florida’s 21st ranked Roberto Cid in his first round match.
Hard to imagine not playing North Carolina during an ACC baseball season. The University of Louisville and UNC will finally get together in the first round of the ACC championship event Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Durham, NC.
The teams last met during the 2007 College World Series. The Tar Heels won that game 3-1 in the quarterfinals, giving UNC a 3-0 edge in the all-time series.
The game will be televised by the Russell Sports Network, which can be found on Fox Sport South in Louisville. The channels are 70 and 930 on Time Warner Cable.
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Everything’s quiet from the Athletic Department on the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. However, the UofL Trustees’ Finance Committee recently released a $2.2 billion six-year capital plan.
The plan included $55 million for expansion in the north end of PJCS, indicating that the University is giving it a high priority in some quarters.
The plan also includes a new $71.7 instructional facility and a $198.8 million at the Health Sciences Center and a $102 research and academic center in the research park adjacent to PJCS.
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UofL’s Sebastian Stiefelmeyer was scheduled to face California’s Andre Goransson in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Singles Championship Wednesday at Waco, Texas.
Stiefelmeyer, a senior from Vienna, Austria, is the tournament’s fifth-seeded player after posting a 40-6 overall singles mark and going 22-3 in dual matches as Louisville’s No. 1 player. The 2015 first team all-ACC selection won the prestigious ITA All-American Championship in September 2014, becoming the first player in program history to win the title.
He was recently named the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award winner.
The University of Louisville baseball team dropped a spot in the D1 Baseball’s national rankings following a week in which the Cardinals won two games and lost two.
UofL is currently ranked third, behind UCLA, which won all four of its games last week, and just ahead of Texas Christian University which also won all four of its games. LSU remains No. 1.
If there’s a good thing about dropping a spot, it’s less pressure on UofL. The Cards needed any kind of a break after seven games in nine days.
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Louisville will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference event this week. Not a tournament format until Sunday, when the two teams with the week’s best records in the four-team pods line up against each other. Here’s the schedule:
2015 ACC Baseball Championship Schedule
Tuesday, May 19
#7 Virginia vs. #10 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#8 North Carolina vs. #9 Virginia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
Wednesday, May 20
#4 Florida State vs. #5 Clemson, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#1 Louisville vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Thursday, May 21
#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 NC State, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#5 Clemson vs. #1 Louisville, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#4 Florida State vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Friday, May 22
#3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#5 Clemson vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #6 NC State, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Saturday, May 23
#1 Louisville vs. #4 Florida State, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #3 Notre Dame, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#6 NC State vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Sunday, May 24
ACC Championship, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)