Negatives just kept adding up for Kellie Young

Quite frankly I was under the impression that Kellie Young’s problems as coach of the University of Louisville lacrosse team had gone away since she was first accused of being overly aggressive in applying discipline back in 2014.

Apparently not, not with reports that at least 15 members of the team had transferred or left the team in the past eight months.   She had also been sued by a former player who had become physically ill, passing out during a practice session.

All the problems attracting too much attention. Young was fired Monday by Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra. She started the program from scratch, compiling a 106-68 won-lost record in 10 seasons. It was time for her to go.

Her dismissal coming just days after the conclusion of the 2017 season in which UofL had an 11-8 record, making its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

While building a winning program, Young obviously missed opportunities to instill loyalty and trust from players and their parents. Too many distractions on and off the field.

Louisville wants the football last against Virginia

Hard to blame University of Louisville football fans for being apprehensive about the upcoming game with Virginia. Things seem to have gone backwards for the Cardinals since the opening game.

More dread lately than optimism, testing the loyalty of UofL football fans on the verge of another basketball season.

The best news for UofL football this week is that Stacy Thomas will leading the defense again.

Kickoff for the UofL-UVa game on Saturday has been set for 3:30 p.m., which is good news for UofL fans accustomed to those noon-time starts.  Louisville is 5-4 overall, 2-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. Virginia is 6-3 overall and 3-2 in ACC play.

My Top Sportsbooks picks Louisville to win, primarily because Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is running the offense. My Top Sportsbooks is an accumulation of betting services, with Louisville’s margin of victory averaging 11 points overall.

UofL’s offense is averaging 33.7 points per game, but the Cardinals allowed an average of 34.9 points against the seven Power 5 teams on their schedule. The anemic defense has made some bad teams look unstoppable. Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino used the bye week to focus heavily on some obvious shortcomings, especially in the secondary.

The best news is that Stacy Thomas will be back in the lineup.  “He has his legs back under him and he’s ready to go,” said Petrino. “He’s been the guy who’s the leader of the defense. Now he’s back at full strength, ready to go.”

Predictions don’t mean much in this budding rivalry, with UofL leading the all-time series 3-2.. All five games having been decided by a touchdown or less. Expect a high-scoring affair on Saturday, and hope that UofL is the last team with the ball.

UofL builds on momentum in academic, athletic construction

Construction continues full speed ahead on the new $83 million classroom facility on Belknap Campus, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 (top photo). Artist’s rendering shows the future (bottom photo).

Hopefully, John Schnatter looks around next time he attends a board meeting on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus. The founder of Papa John’s Pizza harbors a misconception that all of the construction is going on in athletics.

Despite all the garbage dominating the front pages these days, UofL continues to build on the momentum of the past couple of decades — in both academics and athletics. The project that overwhelms them all is a new $83 million classroom facility that will open in the fall of 2018.

Significantly positive news was drowned out by a personnel issue during the most recent Board of Trustees meeting, including these nuggets from an audit of fiscal year 2017:

— The University’s financial position remains strong with total assets reaching $1.3 billion, including a $28.7 million increase in net position during the year.

— UofL had operating revenue growth from nearly every source, and the school’s operating loss was diminished by $33.6 million.

— Scholarship and financial aid expense was slightly lower than the prior year, resulting in an overall 5.8% increase in net tuition revenue.

— The University continued to invest in new and renovated facilities, including the following from the 2016-17 fiscal year:

Completed in 2017

  • Medical Dental Research Building Masonry Restoration, $1,287, 594
  • Ekstrom Library 3rd Floor Renovation, $2,750,000
  • Thornton Academic Center, $19,300,000
  • Baxter I Supplemental Chiller, $617,000
  • Ekstrom Library HVAC Upgrade $550,000
  • Donald Baxter Cardiology Facility, $2,079,000

Completed in 2016

  • Ekstrom Library 1st Floor Renovation, $2,200,000
  • Medical Dental Building 4th Floor, $705,000
  • K-Wing 2nd Floor Renovation, $1,075,000
  • Resurface Running Track at Cardinal Park, $910,000

In Progress

  • Belknap Classroom Building, $83,560,000
  • Student Activity Center Renovation $38,500,000
  • PJCS North End Zone Expansion, $63,250,000
  • Vivarium Study, Medical Campus, $105,064

In The Works

  • UofL Athletic Association Production Studio, $8,000,000

Money trail for UofL Trustees: one-sided support for one school

Follow the money, they said. So we did.

Any concerns of University of Louisville supporters about possible relationships between some UofL Trustees and the University of Kentucky appear to be misplaced.  The financial ties are minimal at best based on actual giving patterns.

Lifetime contributions to UofL from the trustees dwarf the giving to UK, with Louisville institution receiving a total of $30.5 million in overall financial gifts as compared to $1.6 million to the Lexington school. That’s according to the responses of UofL and UK to open records requests from Card Game.

A request was submitted to the University of Kentucky Alumni Department and Office of Philanthropy following our recent publication of a list of trustee donations to UofL that prompted some concern about possible UK bias on the board. The UofL records were through August, the UK results were through last week. Here are the results (click on the list to enlarge).

Gifts to the athletics programs from the trustees included $19.2 million to UofL and $72,660 to Kentucky. The bulk of contributions to UofL athletics was from John Schnatter for naming rights to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Four other trustees have given a total of $82,000 to UofL athletics, including David Grissom, James Rogers, Sandra Frazier and Ronald Wright.

Only two UofL trustees have contributed to UK athletics, including donations of $64,150 from Schnatter and $8,510 from Brian Cromer.

UofL also receives a much higher percentage of trustee giving to the universities, with Louisville getting $11.2 million from 11 members, compared to Kentucky receiving $1.55 million from four members of the UofL board.

Academic gifts to UofL included $5.7 million from Schnatter, $5.3 million from Frazier, $108,047 from Grissom, $25,650 from Dianne Medley, and $4,748 from Enid Trucious-Hayes. Gifts of $700 or less have come from William Armstrong, Raymond Burse, Vishnu Tirumula, James Rogers and Cromer.

Brian Cromer, a UK grad who voted against firing Tom Jurich as Athletic Director, is the only UofL Trustee who has given more to UK than Louisville.

— Cromer, a UK grad, voted against firing Tom Jurich at the Oct. 10 meeting of the UofL Board. As stated above, he has given $8,510 to UK athletics but none to UofL athletics. He has given $285 to UK for academics and $75 to UofL for academics.

— William Armstrong, another UK graduate, has given $640 to UofL, all of it for academics, while giving nothing to Kentucky. Bonita Black, the third UK grad on the board, has not made any contributions to either university.

— James Roger, the UofL product who made the motion to fire Jurich, has given $50,350 to UofL athletics and $100 to academics.

— Nitin Sahney, the University of Punjab, India graduate, also has not contributed any money to either school.

— The list of Schnatter contributions to UK academics includes $5,000 to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. All of his gifts come under the auspices of the Schnatter Family Foundation.

— Of Grissom’s $350 in gifts to UK academics, a total of $250 was to the Sanders-Brown Center for Aging.

If following the money is the key to discerning the motives of the trustees, they are obviously more prone to supporting UofL than UK — at least among those who are making actual contributions. If the theory is true, the collective loyalty of the members heavily leans in the direction of UofL.

There is, however, a significant disparity between the top five givers and the rest of the board, with several members seemingly needing to loosen the grips on their purse strings. Board membership should include a strong commitment to supporting UofL’s financial well-being. That would eliminate any questions about loyalties.

Despite harsh ouster, Tom Jurich reaffirms loyalty to Louisville

Tom Jurich unceremoniously pushed out the door after 20 years of remarkable progress at the University of Louisville.

One couldn’t watch the Tom Jurich interview on WHAS-11 News and not feel that a great wrong has been inflicted on Tom and University of Louisville fans. Such a miscarriage for him to go out this way.

Twenty years of total dedication to the school’s athletic program, building a national brand, providing premium facilities, attracting quality coaches and athletes. Tom Jurich out following a clumsy restructuring of the Board of Trustees and the crushing blow of still another basketball scandal.

Gone, 20 years gone, after a two- or three-minute meeting with Interim President Greg Postel, a letter with a bunch of trumped up charges, asked to exit the campus immediately, leaving his work and his personal belongings in an office that remains sealed to this day.

David Grissom, John Schnatter and Greg Postel can skate for a while. But sooner or later each of them is going to have to answer for their harsh treatment of a local hero recognized nationally for his good works. As well they should. The ugly treatment of Tom Jurich is felt and shared throughout the community.

WHAS-11 Video

Tom saying his family plans to stay in Louisville, that he still loves and will always cheer for the University of Louisville. No ill will, no words of disparagement for those who tossed him out like a sack of garbage, just bewilderment and hurt for a man who moved the program light years from when he accepted the job.

Asked if the fans were owed an apology for the scandal, Jurich took advantage of the opportunity to offer one. Taking advantage of a rare public appearance to say he was sorry — for something that was not his fault. His responsibility maybe, but not his fault.

Doubtful, however, that he will ever receive an apology for the way he was made to leave the campus without even a goodbye to his coaches and staff.

Louisville is extremely fortunate to have had Jurich. He’s not leaving the city.  One can expect him to continue to promote the University at every opportunity if at all possible. It’s an integral part of who he is, a big part of his family, with three kids who graduated from the school, including son Mark who still works there.

Tom Jurich wants only what is best for the school, making his personal concerns secondary to the University. We’re fairly certain the same thing could not be said about many of the other characters in this ongoing ordeal.