Many issues but Greg Postel eager to help shape UofL’s future

There are no shortcuts when it comes resolving some of the current issues plaguing the University of Louisville. The issues are complex, some are divisive, all of them requiring ongoing attention.

Interim President Greg Postel is confident, however, that the challenges, which include accreditation, academic funding, arena financing and NCAA infractions, are being tackled comprehensively. But Postel is not spending all of his time looking backward, he’s also looking forward to putting the problems behind for the University.

Greg Postel has been at UofL for 23 years, serving as Vice President of Health Affairs before becoming Interim President.

“I’m to the point where we have to start turning our focus on where we’re going next,” he told UofL’s Mark Hebert, director of media programming and production in a YouTube released Tuesday.  “I don’t think it’s possible for people to come to work everyday and be excited about solving old problems.”

Postel said he is in contact on a daily basis with people throughout the community who are anticipating the next stage in UofL’s development — donors, potential donors, politicians, citizens throughout the community, students, staff, faculty, administrators, giving him a good sense what the community wants to happen.

“I think people are pleased that the problems are being addressed, and comforted, I hope, that those problems are being addressed in a thoughtful way,” he said. “For people to be enthusiastic, however, they have to have something to look forward to.  That means what is our strategy and how we are going to follow it.”

He noted that UofL essentially has two strategic plans, the 20/20 plan developed in 2008 and the 21st Century initiative from 2012, with points of focus including education, research, diversity, community engagement and stewardship of resources.

“My concern, or the deficiency in both plans was not the quality of the goals but I don’t think enough thought was given as to how all the resources would be marshaled to accomplish those goals.

“This community is hopeful about the future of the University of Louisville. In my position, I hear a tremendous amount of optimism, that people are pleased that UofL is ready to move to the next stage in its evolution. UofL is going to do some great things and be a contributing member in this community.

“That’s exciting to me. I put everything I have into this job.”

Courier-Journal tweet mocking Jurich reaffirms anti-UofL bias

Are you people at the Courier-Journal really serious?

Someone at the C-J sent out a tweet Friday morning with a photo of a prostitute sticking $50 bills in a bra with the question, “Should Tom Jurich get a Hometown Hero banner?”

The tweet is accompanied by a post by Jeffrey Lee Puckett on the online site suggesting a banner for Jurich could somehow appease UofL fans if the school is forced to relinquish the NCAA banner? Yes, that Jeffrey Lee Puckett, the music critic and part-time sports fan, the one who boasted he was a Kentucky fan before he quit being a UofL fan.

Is the corporate mindset at the Gannet outlet really that much out of touch with the community? Did the placement of the original photo, which was removed after two hours, really reflect the staff’s contempt for UofL? For Tom Jurich?

Or was it just someone trying to be cute, stooping to a new low? Is the CJ’s goal simply to attract attention, no matter how trite or tasteless, regardless of who is negatively impacted?

Sadly, one must conclude the answer has to be yes for all of the above questions. The Courier-Journal is not your grandfather’s newspaper, the one that won all those Pulitzer Prizes under the Binghams.

Some of the negative coverage could be expected given the fallout from the alleged activities of former player Andre McGee and the results of the forensic audit. However, the C-J news side has gone overboard the last five years, prompting many to conclude the newspaper has been on a vendetta.

Starting early on with tying former UofL President Jim Ramsey’s administration to some thefts by a couple of employees to hyping the efforts of Steve Beshear trustee appointees to derailing Ramsey later on. The negative coverage has been relentless, so blatantly anti-UofL in so many instances.

The latest tweet hardly comes as a surprise, confirming what many UofL supporters have known all along.

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Maybe irrelevant, most likely coincidental, but certainly interesting that Wes Jackson, president of the C-J during this period, is a former University of Kentucky football player. Fortunately, he has moved on to USA Today’s automotive sales business, a far cry from journalism.  Unfortunately, he will still be in the same building, consorting with his same co-workers.

The C-J web site makes it impossible to determine whether there are any graduates from the UK School of Journalism on the staff. Andrew Wolfson, who usually covers UofL, attended Colorado College. Columnist Joseph Gerth and reporter Philip Bailey are Louisville grads.

As previously noted here, the Courier-Journal prides itself on providing almost 50-50 coverage when it comes to UofL vs. UK athletics. However, the C-J provides very little coverage of other UK activities, relying primarily on wire service coverage. The result is a vacuum of coverage on other UK issues.

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To his credit, UofL beat writer Jeff Greer tweeting Friday morning that he had expressed his displeasure with the Jurich tweet to his superiors.

No disagreement between Jurich and Postel on Arena pact

No hint of any differences between Vice President Tom Jurich and Acting President Greg Postel during the special-called meeting of the board of the University of Louisville Athletic Association Thursday morning to discuss the amended KFC Yum! Center financing deal.

Greg Postel says he was keeping Tom Jurich in the loop.

A report from Kent Taylor of WAVE3 the night before suggested that Jurich had not participated in negotiations between UofL and Arena Authority, perhaps signaling a shift in power away from the athletic department. As if Jurich had been an obstacle in the negotiating process.

How that language became a part of Taylor’s report is up for conjecture. This observer believes the logical source would have been Scott Cox, the head of the Arena Authority, who has been chomping at the bit to reach an agreement with UofL. His father was the late Earl Cox, former Courier-Journal editor and he previously worked with Sen. Mitch McConnell so he’s no stranger to the media or the leaking fraternity.

Tom Jurich said he is in support of the amended financing agreement.

Based on Thursday morning’s meeting, it may well be that the administration is teaming up with Jurich, providing him with the full backing of the university. During the session, the ULAA board voted unanimously in support of providing an additional $2.4 million annually to help finance the arena bonds.

Postel said Jurich had been kept abreast of the negotiating process at every step along the way. He noted that the athletic director was briefed on the details Wednesday night after returning to town from a two-week vacation. Jurich, while obviously disappointed that the original financing was inadequate, indicated that he supported the amended agreement with the Arena Authority.

“Tom and I have been talking about this, along with Kevin Miller (senior associate athletic director/finance), since January,” said Postel. “We’ve had many conversations about this topic. There was nothing unusual in this concept that Tom was not aware of. He’s been out of town so I briefed him last night.

“What the ULAA voted to do today we did not have to do. UofL is trying to be a good partner to the community. We are doing this electively because we want to participate. We want to help. The state is contributing more, the city is contributing more so we stepping to be a community partner and to help support this facility.”

Postel said that while he recognizes the additional financial commitment from the athletic department is a strain, it is just one more significant challenge to the school at a crucial time. “We don’t view this as an ‘Us versus Them,’ we’re all UofL.”

Jurich had already departed the building but no serious observer would doubt that he does not subscribe to that conclusion.

Andy Beshear poking around again in UofL issues

Andy Beshear is being a Beshear, inserting state government into the affairs of the University of Louisville again. Always an opportunist, the son of the former Kentucky governor apparently can’t resist getting involved when it comes to UofL.

Andy Beshear usually makes things worse when he gets involved in UofL issues.

Beshear, who occupies the State Attorney General’s office, this week requested copies of former UofL President Jim Ramsey’s emails along with his computer hard drive. Doubtful either source would yield anything, especially Ramsey’s computer which has long since been wiped clean.

But his actions accomplish a few things for Beshear, enabling him to further diminish UofL’s reputation while preventing the University from moving forward from the months-long quagmire. Beshear making this a personal case with Ramsey, posing the possibility of civil or criminal liability.

Some UofL supporters, including this observer, are convinced UofL’s problems began with Governor Steve Beshear’s appointments to the board of trustees, with a suspected goal of derailing the UofL Foundation. Fortunately Steve Beshear’s tenure finally expired, but his son in the AG’s Office has continued to put obstacles in UofL’s way.

It was the AG’s legal challenge to the board appointments of Gov. Matt Bevin that resulted in the flip-flopping of board members and to the University being placed on accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The case still poses a major threat  because it’s still in the court system.

The Beshears are bad news for UofL.

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Alvarez & Marsal, the Chicago firm that conducted the audit of the UofL Foundation, did not specify in its report whether any criminal activity had occurred. The report did include charges of reckless spending, as one would expect from a company commissioned to conduct a forensic audit.

Not satisfied with the original $1.7 million report, the Board of Trustees this week authorized $400,000 for additional work. Maybe the logic is that a few more bucks will generate some more finger-pointing, possibly some actual suspects.

A confusing expense, perhaps extravagant, for a Board investigating excessive spending. Perhaps their instructions to the auditing firm were not clear enough the first time around. The board is spending an inordinate amount of time and money investigating the previous administration.

The threat of criminal and civil lawsuits against individuals who accomplished a great deal at UofL is more than a little counter-productive. That’s true whether it’s coming from the current Board of Trustees or the State Attorney General’s office.

Independence and challenges for UofL

Photo by Barbara Springer.

Not quite the happy or carefree summer that it should have been this year, not with that nasty NCAA threat hanging over the University of Louisville basketball program.

Not going away, always there, with reportedly little chance of overturning a decision that would cost UofL tens of millions of dollars and dozens of wins, including a third national championship.

In its long history, the NCAA has never learned how to impose penalties without harming the innocent, incapable of conceiving ways to punish or expose the actual perpetrators. Instead, taking the easy way out, choosing to recklessly impugn the reputations of the institution, the coaches, the players and fans.

The best part of the ordeal, hopefully, when combined with the challenges on the administrative side, is that the shared experience will make fans even more supportive of their university. It have never been easy being a UofL fan in Kentucky, but that has never prevented the University from achieving great things.