As we near the halfway point in the Summer of 2016, there are some major uncertainties leaving the University of Louisville twisting in the wind. Very unsettling for UofL supporters who deserve better.
Responsible leaders at the University and in Frankfort have made all the right moves but the ultimate outcomes lie in the hands of others. Alumni and fans are forced to wait patiently.
The most pressing issue, of course, is who will lead the university. Governor Matt Bevin has dismissed the old Board of Trustees, which had become a deterrent due to his predecessor’s appointments. Bevin replaced 10 of them with civic and business leaders with no agenda other than to get the University back on course.
But Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of Steve Beshear, has chosen to proceed along his father’s pernicious path, challenging Bevin’s appointments in court. This unnecessarily drags out the process, making administrative decisions more difficult, and potentially exposing UofL to even more damage from political appointments in the judicial system.
Jim Ramsey, meanwhile, continues as President, doing what he does best, expanding the school in every direction one looks. While he intends to offer his resignation to the new Board of Trustees, he also has indicated he would be willing to stick around for at least another academic year.
The other big issue for the University is what punishment will be administered to the basketball program, the most profitable college basketball program in the country. UofL has admitted guilt, self-imposing a ban at the end of the 2016 season, reducing a couple of scholarships while giving up recruiting opportunities.
The investigation appeared to end about three months ago but there has been no word from the NCAA. No notice of allegations and no hint of when they will be announced. This keeps the program in a state of uncertainty, making it difficult for Coach Rick Pitino to put the issue behind him.
Another round of discomfiture lies ahead for UofL fans, with the repetitious and embarrassing allegations, the finger-pointing from the Calipari bootlickers, the inevitable herd mentality of the media, and the moralizing of sanctimonious sportswriters.
A far cry from a couple of years ago when the University was riding a crest of unprecedented physical and academic development, achieving a billion dollar endowment, celebrating its entrance into the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference, and savoring a third national championship in basketball.
Every year can’t be the Year of the Cardinal obviously. There are going to be some down years, some with more pitfalls than others. But this is one of the worst thus far, with the harassment of President Jim Ramsey, the deterioration of the board, and a premature end to the basketball season. A baseball team destined for greatness blows a three-run lead in the bottom on the ninth inning. Not a good year.
The University community will ultimately be stronger for the experience, surviving and building on a series of events testing the resolve of everyone associated with the school. The board will have rid itself of some individuals who had little loyalty and some questionable motives. Jim Ramsey, hopefully, will have at least another year, helping with the transition to new leadership. And unless something new has surfaced in the NCAA investigations, Pitino can focus again on winning another national title.
The dark cloud that has hovered over Belknap Campus will find another institution to shadow. As unseemly as some of the events of the past year may appear to be, UofL loyalists have seen worst, including years of stagnant growth, directionless leadership and lack of support from state government.
The University of Louisville, despite the recent blowback, will be more strongly positioned than ever to build on the unprecedented success of the past decade. The hardest part is waiting for all the drama to be done.