Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

Why Tom Jurich may have allowed the speculation

By on February 11, 2016 in Basketball with 4 Comments

Good for the University of Louisville that Tom Jurich has clarified that he’s not interested in an opening for a new athletic director at the University of Southern California. That’s the best news fans have had since the escort scandal surfaced at UofL.

Apparently someone close to Jurich, or at least in his vicinity, was leaking information to numerous media outlets across town, telling them the rumor had legs, that Tom was willing to listen to an offer this time around. Some usually reliable reporters going with it, citing his Southern California roots, including John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford for a couple of hours on their 93.9 The Ville talk show.

Interesting, though, that he allowed the speculation to continue for several hours before putting an end to it.

One possibility is that Jurich, in an effort to finger the source of leaks at UofL, made a casual remark to a suspected staff member or contractor to test their trustworthiness. Another is that Tom may have wanted to send a message to some members of the board of trustees, providing them with a reminder of how much he values his relationship with President Jim Ramsey. Still another is that he was indirectly communicating with Rick Pitino, who has been playing both sides of the will he stay or will he go game.

Someone at the university has been supplying information on a regular basis to Matt Jones, the host of Kentucky Sports Radio. None of the information reflecting favorably on UofL. Could be a staff member or someone who does contract work for the university, or it could be both. It would be in Tom’s best interest to identify and cut all ties with the individual(s). Whoever is attempting to damage UofL’s name should not be receiving any financial benefits from the university.

The more likely reason is Tom’s respect for his boss. Jurich has a very close relationship with Jim Ramsey, often describing him as the best boss he has ever had, describing his own position as the best AD job in the nation. Jurich had told some people, including this observer, that he would, in fact, consider leaving UofL if there were certain changes in the President’s office. That’s something people calling for Jim Ramsey’s job need to keep in mind.

Finally, maybe Tom was sending a message to Rick Pitino for some reason, perhaps a subtle reminder that he has been supportive of the coach through some difficult times and that loyalty works both ways.

Who knows? But Wednesday’s period of uncertainly startled a lot of people , including those fans calling for Ramsey and Pitino’s jobs. That crowd was dealt a heavy dose of reality, suddenly confronted with the stark possibility of losing all three UofL leaders. Never doubt that Jurich is loyal to his boss and to the people he hires and oversees himself.

As Howie Lindsay has noted, since Jurich arrived, Louisville has been to three Final Fours, two BCS games, three College World Series, a College Cup, two women’s Final Fours and produced a half-dozen NCAA Champions. He, along with Ramsey, also made it possible for UofL to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and transformed the eastern boundary of the University of Louisville campus.

The fact that Tom Jurich remains committed to the University of Louisville is the most positive development that has occurred since the rash of bad news began. He has the unique leadership skills, along with the trust and respect of his colleagues at other universities, required to get UofL through this mess. He recognizes the enormous challenge confronting UofL, and he is best qualified to navigate the rugged terrain.

Some Louisville basketball fans would make the punishment worse

By on February 9, 2016 in Basketball with 4 Comments

Thankfully the banner has been removed at Patrick O’Shea’s.

Some people need to step back from the brink. There’s much more at stake than just this year’s post-season play.

Specifically the segment of University of Louisville fans signing a petition calling for UofL to rescind the self-imposed probation, others seeking a court injunction to block the ban, and the ones requesting that the NCAA not accept the punishment.

The worst possible scenario for everybody, including Jim Ramsey, Tom Jurich, Rick Pitino and the fans would be for the NCAA to vacate the 2013 national title won by the University of Louisville and to vacate all the wins that occurred over four seasons involving the offending players. On top of that, the NCAA could impose a one- or two-year suspension on post-season action, extending the punishment two more years into the future.

One can understand the hurt the petitioners feel for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, the fifth-year players who transferred to UofL so they could enjoy the NCAA tournament. They’re good players, great individuals. But if any of these groups got their way, the punishment could be far worse than disappointing a couple of single-season players.

They want to be a part of a solution, but they lash out at the people most committed to protecting the integrity of the University and the basketball program.

No one in a position of authority pays much attention to petitions these days unless they’re required to by law. If one judge were to issue an injunction, another judge would simply overturn it. And since when has the NCAA ever done anything but pile on to self-imposed penalties of offending schools?

They want to be a part of a solution, but they lash out at the people most committed to protecting the integrity of the University and the basketball program. Some of them want to fire Jim Ramsey who has taken decisive action to limit the damage.

Patrick O’Shea’s, a local restaurant, hangs a large banner outside the entrance proclaiming, “Jim Ramsey is a coward!” The sign is a cheap shot and the proprietor shows he has no clue about the definition of a coward. A coward is someone who runs and hides when things get tough. Ramsey has done the exact opposite, penalizing the most popular program in the community knowing there could be an enormous backlash.

Others want to be rid of Rick Pitino, as if the coach should have known a loser on his staff would bring hookers into Billy Minardi Hall. A coach who wanted to give another player a head start on a good career, only to have that individual bring ridicule and shame on his co-workers and players. More than two dozen of Pitino’s proteges have gone on to very successful careers of their own, none of them tainted by kind of stench wrought by Andre McGee.

As the drama continues to intensify, can Tom Jurich be far behind in their quest for some relief or vengeance? Pitino says Jurich was the one who actually made the decision to self-impose the penalties and that Ramsey merely went along with the recommendation. Based on Chuck Smrt’s findings, the University had little choice but to take immediate action, whether it was Ramsey or Jurich who made the decision.

Never mind that the violations largely occurred as the result of  one individual or a select few, the NCAA has always held the institution responsible for the actions of people attached to the program. The penalties are never fair to the current group of players and fans.

Does the group of fans calling for fairness want UofL to be the first program to ever vacate a national championship? The answer should be obvious. Lifting the ban on post-season play this season might enable Damion Lee and Trey Lewis to realize their dreams. Maybe so, maybe not. There were never any guarantees. We’ll never know because the post-season ban is here to stay.

Duke takes advantage of wobbly Louisville

By on February 8, 2016 in Basketball with 0 Comments

Coaches insisting the sudden change in the post-season outlook is not having an effect on this University of Louisville basketball team. Like that’s not possible.

Likewise, indicating the players aren’t intimidated by the boisterous atmosphere at Cameron Arena, one of the most cramped facilities in college basketball. A place where students are practically on top of the playing floor, within an outstretched arm’s reach, constantly in vertical motion.

If they say so, but Louisville appeared more than a little disconcerted in the first half and much of the second half in the 72-65 loss. Duke getting better at just the right time? But not that much better.

— Damion Lee throwing up contested shots all game long, making only three of 15 field goal attempts, none from behind the three-point line. This was where he wanted to be, living the dream, hitting three-point shots against Duke at Cameron Arena.  Scratch that dream.

— Chinanu Onuaku still unable to avoid that moving pick that keeps getting him in foul trouble, keeps Rick Pitino shaking his head. Two points, three rebounds, three turnovers and four fouls. Taking two steps forward, slipping on painted lines, resembling himself a year ago. He may be back next season after all.

— Trey Lewis still not ready to take control of a game, much less his emotions. Pitino still wanting to slow him down, Lewis quick and in too big a hurry, not a good combination.

— Donovan Mitchell keeps UofL in games but he’s not in the game at the end of close ones for some reason. Team leading 17 points in this one.

— Raymond Spalding is always going to foul his man on a drive to the basket, especially if the game is close. Any of those projectiles that go in the basket are always a startling bonus.

— Anas Mahmoud is the best defensive weapon UofL has, those long arms of his resembling Spiderman stretchers at times, preventing Duke from putting the game out of reach at times. Still putting his game together, with three blocks, four rebounds but only two points.

— Quentin Snider suffering in comparison with quick point guards from Louisville’s past. Not making a lot of mistakes but not many assists or steals either — two of each against Duke. Did contribute 12 points.

— Jaylen Johnson didn’t get much playing time last season, still playing much like a freshman. Not stopping anybody but himself with his uncertainty around the basket on both ends of the court.

Plenty of time to get better before March rolls around next season.

Louisville women must wait for another day

Too good to be true, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team leading Notre Dame by nine points with six minutes to go in the third quarter. The Cardinals couldn’t hold on, however, blowing an opportunity to claim first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

What coulda, shoulda been thinking is for losers. They will have to wait another day.

UofL could never reclaim the lead after Myisha Hines-Allen collected her fifth foul with five minutes remaining in the game. The Louisville women looking every bit the team that had won 15 straight games up until that point.

Final score: Notre Dame 66, Louisville 61. Before a crowd of 13,837 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Hines-Allen had team scoring honors with 16 points, followed by Mariya Moore and Briahanna Jackson with 13 and 12 points, respectively.


Jim Ramsey tackles toughies head on at University of Louisville

By on February 6, 2016 in Football with 6 Comments

Predictably Jim Ramsey is in the crosshairs of some angry University of Louisville fans for inflicting a self-imposed post-season ban on the basketball program. Some calling for him to be fired, believing his actions were premature and overreactive.

As good as Ramsey has been for the University, the man has earned the right to be respected for seeking to resolve a very difficult situation. The healing had to begin at some point, the sooner the better.

Jim Ramsey

Jim Ramsey

The full results of the investigation won’t be known for several months. Ramsey is the person charged with the school’s overall well-being. As the chief executive, he is expected to make the hard decisions. Having seen the facts, he had no choice but to follow through on his instincts. That’s what leaders are expected to do.

The athletic program has been a great source of pride for Ramsey, as has the school’s impressive academic and facilities growth in his 13-year tenure, in which the endowment surpassed $1 billion for the first time.  He is a hands-on leader, loving the work, treasuring the University, taking it to new heights. He has always been highly visible across campus and at athletic events.

He may made a few mistakes, and others have made mistakes that reflect upon his leadership. But that comes with the job. Fortunately, he has some thick skin, able to absorb criticism while still enabling the University to achieve one milestone after another.

The decision to self-impose a ban on post-season tournament had to be extremely difficult for him. But there should be little doubt that he is doing what he believes is best for the long-term future of the University. That is his job, after all, and he’s done it well. Rushing to judgement to condemn Jim Ramsey when he’s the person best informed of what actually happened in the basketball controversy is foolish.

Whether or not he decides to stick around with all the chaos that will occur over the next few weeks and months, Ramsey has embraced his leadership role in ways never before imagined by the community. He has set the standard for leadership at UofL that his successors can only hope to emulate.

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