Bendapudi ends Papa John’s drama quickly at Louisville

Papa John’s signs coming down at the University of Louisville football stadium.

John H. Schnatter’s name coming off the UofL’s Center for Free Enterprise.

Neeli Bendapudi not one to wait around, taking decisive action to end the drama.

Those decisions coming from University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi less than 24 hours after John Schnatter was outed for uttering the N-word during a business meeting.

Rapid-fire solutions for all the UofL supporters and fans who were so on edge after Schnatter resigned from the UofL board of trustees. The guy with the big mouth tripping over his tongue, branded forever in a super sensitive social environment.

So much resentment, so many people upset, each of them seemingly more racially sensitive than the next. Nobody happy about the situation. Many of the offended demanding that UofL change the name of the stadium overnight, the calls coming within hours of the Forbes Magazine report.

As if the name could be changed immediately, without any regard for iron-clad business contracts. Yet that’s exactly what Bendapudi did, deciding overnight that UofL had to cut any official ties with the individual and his company, wanting to disassociate his name with UofL and deal with the collateral damage later.

“Over the last 24 hours our community has been fractured by the comments made by former UofL trustee John Schnatter,” she said. “These comments were hurtful and unacceptable, and they do not reflect the values of our university.

“I have stated since my first day on this job that my commitment to the University of Louisville is to make it a great place to learn, a great place to work, and a great place in which to invest. We can only accomplish this if we truly celebrate diversity, foster equity, and aim to achieve inclusion.”

Bendapudi telling one of the university’s one of the school’s most generous contributors that UofL no longer wanted to be associated with him. No board meetings, no media posturing, no endless waits. Just a telephone call. 

Quick and decisive action. A new day at UofL.

Morgan & Morgan: Put Carol Cartwright on the stand

Call Carol Cartwright to the stand.

Highly doubtful that the lawsuit being filed against the NCAA is going to reverse the action resulting in the loss of the University of Louisville’s 2013 national championship banner.  But that team was able to overcome many obstacles.

Led by Luke Hancock, who was selected as most outstanding player in the title game, the group claims the NCAA damaged their reputations and affected their potential incomes. They want the banner and wins back, along with an admission from the NCAA that they are innocent . 

The potential witnesses in this case could be interesting, ranging from Andre MeGee to Katina Powell, and possibly numerous former UofL players and coaches. However, the person one most wants to see on the witness stand in this case is Carol Cartwright, the individual who served as chairperson of the Committee on Infractions in UofL’s case.

One sees Cartwright’s fingerprints all over the draconian decision that ignored the University’s cooperation, the investigation and the self-imposed punishment. Beyond the pale, hammering the players, the school and the fan base with unprecedented penalties.

Cartwright, the first female president at Bowling Green State and Kent State universities, was a forceful advocate for women’s studies at both institutions and was later named to the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. So a case involving a group of young women would be of  special interest to her.

One suspects Cartwright, the only female member on the Committee on Infractions, was especially aggravated by the charges of stripping and possible prostitution. One also suspects that Cartwright, as chairwoman of the committee, was the individual who recommended the severe penalties which, in turn, were rubber-stamped by fellow committee members. The extent of the penalties was unwarranted.

Coincidentally, Cartwright also has been critical of conflicts of interest within the NCAA. She served as co-chair on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which was created to make recommendations following the revelations of an ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting.

Cartwright argued in an article she co-authored for the Chronicles on Higher Education that the NCAA should shift from being a membership association — with inherent conflicts of interest — to being an independent leadership organization to govern Division 1 college basketball and football.

“We concluded that the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and by extension the university presidents who lead it, cannot engineer that transformation under its current governance structure, even with the best intentions,” she wrote. The co-author was Arne Duncan, former U.S. secretary of education.

Cartwright is obviously quite familiar with the failings of the NCAA and with some possible conflicts of her own when it comes to judging accusations against a men’s basketball team. She should be required to answer some questions on the witness stand.

She has some explaining to do.

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According to one report, the case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Olu Stevens locally. If the name is familiar, it was Stevens who was placed on probation for 90 days by the state in 2017  after accusing a prosecutor of racism and dismissing a jury.

Not the best judicial venue for a case to be considered, but it has to start somewhere. These former UofL players are no strangers to major hurdles.

Mending wounds of old friends important to healing at UofL

One of the great things about the growth of the University of Louisville over the past couple of decades was that one always felt like he or she was an integral part of helping to transform UofL from a sleepy urban school to a dynamic and growing university.

It hurt and hurt deeply when some of the architects of that movement, the people in leadership roles, the people one got to know so well, the people one respected as friends and visionaries, were unceremoniously dismissed despite of what they had accomplished at UofL.

'They really didn’t care (about the loss in donations). UofL in the Atlantic Coast Conference became a crown jewel; they wanted it and they got it.'

Not surprising that some influential individuals in the community would want to exercise control over the University. Not surprising either that many supporters want to keep an arm’s length from people who forced  change, sometimes traumatic, upon the institution.

Dr. Bob Hughes, former chairman of the UofL Board of Trustees and the UofL Foundation, often indicated that the “wine and cheese crowd in the East End” was behind the upheaval at the school, wanting their own people in charge. 

“That was the goal from day one when they came on,” he told Card Game in a recent email. “It is only becoming more obvious with time; however, the delta on donations from the negativity it took to take control is about $50 million annually in donations to the foundation. They really didn’t care. UofL in the Atlantic Coast Conference became a crown jewel, they wanted it and they got it.”

With the Board of Trustees now under the thumb of J. David Grissom, a financial advisor to many of the community’s wealthiest families, Hughes’ theory definitely has credibility, even given all the charges of financial mismanagement and malfeasance that has been alleged. There’s no denying that UofL is now under much different oversight.

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Getting the community’s blue bloods invested in the future of the school would be a very positive development. Opening up new relationships and even deeper purses may be just what the University of Louisville needs to achieve higher levels of excellence. Some have criticized the school’s success in athletics, believing it may have impacted UofL’s lack of respect in academic circles. Some believed Tom Jurich’s fundraising success in athletics was crippling contributions to academics. Ironic coming from John Schnatter, who pledged $19 million in Papa John’s stock to UofL athletics.

The board most prominent recent hire, that of Neeli Bendapudi as the school’s 18th President, appears to have been a master stroke. She’s an individual with a successful track record of fundraising at the University of Kansas. But equally important, she seems to have the ability to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. Plus, she has indicated that she very much wants UofL’s success in athletics to continue.

It’s going to take a while for Vince Tyra to  be loved by Louisville fans as much as Tom Jurich. But Tyra has been effective in retaining successful coaches and unquestionably wants UofL athletics to continue competing at the highest levels. Consider the school fortunate to have such an individual eager to step up when UofL needed him most.

Chris Mack, the new UofL basketball coach, is the exact opposite of Rick Pitino in many ways. But like Pitino he’s certainly not bashful when it comes to challenges while acknowledging the Louisville job and fan base as among the best in the nation.

Even some of the board’s most ardent critics have admitted that these hires were great choices, giving many of them second thoughts about the motivations of some board members. Could it be that the old money crowd actually knows what it’s doing, cares about the school and wants UofL to pursue even higher aspirations?

The people currently in control have had much to deal with over the past two years, making some difficult decisions. They’ve done it in a difficult environment, and their decisions have not always been popular.  Be they business or civic leaders, they are responsible to putting UofL back on the right path to respectability and prosperity.

Grissom recently decided the board, having successfully dealt with many of the school’s issues, would no longer have to meet monthly, going back to the old schedule of meeting quarterly. That’s another good sign, indicating that the Board of Trustees has high levels of trust in Neeli Bendapudi’s leadership abilities.

Now with so many of the problems in the past, the University can begin to restore many of the relationships that made the progress possible in the past two decades. Bendapudi may be the right person in the right place at the right time, with her unique ability to relate to the old money crowd and the everyday fan and supporter.

Time to look forward again, this time with a deeper base of support.

Top betting favorites headline Louisville football schedule

The more things change, the more they remain the same, at least for now. But that doesn’t diminish the appeal when it comes to speculation, attendance, TV viewer ratings and sports betting. Football remains the consensus No. 1 favorite in college athletics.

The usual suspects top the list of leading contenders for the college football’s national championship for the 2018-19 season. They include Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Oklahoma and Texas, in addition to Georgia, Penn State and Washington

The University of Louisville football team will be in a unique position of making a case for itself during the 2018 season, playing two of those contenders — Alabama in the opening game at Orlando on Sept. 1 and at Clemson in the ninth game on Oct. 3.

Not surprisingly, the Cardinals are least three-touch down underdogs in each of those games.  But don’t expect UofL football to just show up, hoping to stay close, not wanting to embarrass itself. That would be self-defeating.

“The number one thing that we’ve got to be able to do is work hard enough and believe in each other so that we take the field truly believing that we’re going to win the game,” said Coach Bobby Petrino.

All the more reason for University of Louisville football fans to look forward to these headliner games. Unprecedented opportunities for UofL to make a difference in how the national championship is decided.

According to this bunch of sports betting sites, the odds of UofL wining the college football championships range from +25000 to +40000 depending on which site one visits. But odds are just odds, not certainties, and that’s what makes betting on college football so interesting.

Christy Brown signals old money crowd to get behind Bendapudi

Christy Brown is the reigning matriarch of the Brown dynasty in Louisville.

Old Louisville money spoke loudly about Neeli Bendapudi’s future as the new President when local philanthropist and socialite Christy Brown announced this week she was giving $5 million to the University of Louisville.

“Our university has today turned a glorious page, and it’s begun a new chapter with the arrival of our fabulous new president,” said Brown as she made a pledge to a new UofL Envirome Institute to study the effects of the environment on individual health.

The matriarch. The grande dame. Christy Brown had spoken. 

Brown was, in effect, announcing her blessing for Bendapudi just five weeks after she assumed the office at the UofL on May 15th. The importance of her actions can’t be overstated. The widow of the late Owsley Brown II is the matriarch of the powerful Brown family dynasty that derived its fortune from Brown-Forman Distillers.

The influence of the Browns and others in the extended family is pervasive. It was Christy Brown, remember, who hosted Prince Charles in Louisville during his four-day visit to the U.S. in 2015. The family also hosted Queen Elizabeth at the Kentucky Derby in 2007.

Christy Brown says Neeli Bendapudi’s presence turns a glorious new page for the University of Louisville.

Making the guest list for Brown’s  parties or events she attends is a must for the socially ambitious. She’s always the center of attention in any activity in which she participates, with ambitious admirers eager to greet and be seen with her.

Standing behind Brown at the UofL announcement were daughter Brook Brown and her husband Matthew Barzun, who was U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain under Obama. Barzun was once mentioned as a possible candidate for the UofL presidency. Also there was Augusta Brown, married to Gill Holland, a prominent Louisville developer credited with developing the NuLu area.

Close family connections with the Browns include the Fraziers, descendants of Garvin Brown, who founded Brown-Forman.  The late Owsley Brown Frazier, another BF executive, gave UofL a gift of $25 million in 2011. It remains the largest contribution in the school’s history.

Another generous contributor was Steve Wilson, married to Laura Lee Brown, cousin to late Owsley Brown II. The founder of 21C Hotels, Wilson was the UofL Trustee who started the revolt against former President Jim Ramsey in 2015. An open records request to UofL indicated that Wilson and his wife had contributed more than $1.3 million before Wilson resigned in 2015.

Sandra Frazier, the daughter of Amelia Brown Frazier and the niece of Owsley B. Frazier,  is a member of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. She’s also the owner of Tandem Public Relations and, more importantly, a member of the Board of Directors of the Glenview Trust Fund.

The person who runs Glenview Trust just happens to be J. David Grissom, the Chairman of the UofL Board of Trustees. Brown family members and their foundations are known to use Glenview Trust Co., currently managing an estimated $6.5 billion in assets. Clientele reportedly include 500 of the area’s wealthiest families.

Bendapudi has been non-stop coming aboard in mid-May, meeting with one decision maker after another.  Recent tweets included photos of her with power hitters David Jones and David Jones, Jr., of the C.E. & S. Foundation, and John Schnatter, of Papa John’s.

She has also met with leaders of the J. Graham Brown Foundation, the Humana Foundation, the David Novak (Yum!) family, and Kosair Charities, as well as the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Louisville  delegation to the General Assembly, the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate and the Student Government Association.

Bendapudi has been constantly on the go, touching all the bases with all the decision makers, the people who will make UofL whole again. Having the blessing of Christy Brown is a significant milestone, opening many more doors for the new administration.  A new chapter, indeed, for the University of Louisville.