Mickey Clark constant companion at numerous UofL Final Fours

Back in 1982, the  family made the 12-hour trek to New Orleans for the second Final Four appearance in three years for University of Louisville basketball team.  Along with many other fans, as part of a caravan some of the way, enjoying the UofL camaraderie, genuinely fun times.

Mickey Clark was a constant companion for many UofL fans on NCAA trips.

Much of the time we were entertained by the music of Louisville’s own Mickey Clark, a country entertainer who composed and recorded his own version of “The Battle of New Orleans.” A musical tribute  to the 1981-82 basketball team, recapping the highlights while saluting the individual players.

The Springers arrive at a motel about 80 miles away on a Friday night before the game. Sleeping late the next day, only to realize that New Orleans is on central standard time. Pushing the gas pedal to the floor, arriving in the vicinity of the Super Bowl to discover there are no parking spaces. Panic stricken the observer winding up in the main U.S. Post Office parking lot, very close to the unloading level. Have to gamble that the car will still be there after the game.

We hustle over to the Superdome, finding our seats on the next last row in of the upper end zone for the Louisville-Georgetown game. Somehow making the tip off. Thankfully there’s a video screen above because the players are little more than specks on the floor.  UofL would lose the game 50-46. All was not lost, however, because the car was still in the same place after the game. And the Cards will return to the Final Four, held in Albuquerque the next year.

Mickey’s cassette tape will be played and replayed, before, during and on the return trip to Louisville. His music an integral part of the memories and the total experience. He would come out with numerous different recordings for various basketball trips over the next 30 years, including the UofL’s third national championship in the 2012-13 season.

Clark passed away Sunday night in Louisville, surrounded by his family. He will always occupy a special place in the hearts of many UofL fans.

Other music is available on Brennan Clark’s (his son) YouTube account.

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.

*    *    *

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.

Mississippi State rears its head again, threat to Louisville baseball

Dan McDonnell has transformed the baseball program during his 12 seasons at the University of Louisville (Charlie Springer photo).

Always something.

During an academic calendar year when Mississippi State teams brought abrupt ends to numerous University of Louisville athletic teams, one is not shocked that the same school is believed to be pursuing UofL’s baseball coach. This one may not end well either.

Louisville fans learned the hard way to not take Mississippi State lightly. Losses to the Bulldogs downed the football team in the TaxSlayer Bowl, the men’s basketball season in the NIT, the women’s basketball season in the Final Four, and the men’s tennis team in NCAA play.

Artist rendering of 13,000-capacity Mississippi State baseball facility.

The latest clash between the two schools is the most serious challenge yet. Dan McDonnell is among the best college baseball coaches in the country. He has guided UofL to four College World Series appearances, 11 appearances in the NCAA tournament and a school record 554 wins against only 222 losses in 12 seasons.

Mississippi State, however, has been serious about college baseball for much longer, compiling a program resume that could intimidate even the most serious UofL baseball fan. The Bulldogs have been to the College World Series nine times, participated in 33 NCAA regionals, won the SEC regular season 11 times, and the SEC tournament seven times. Their best finish in the CWS was second in 2013.

Mississippi State plays in a newly-renovated 13,000-seat Polk-Dement Stadium in Starkville, a facility that rivals many minor league baseball parks. The Bulldogs average more than 10,000 spectators per game. Their largest crowd ever was 15,586 for a game against arch-rival Mississippi in 2014.

With that kind of success come come sky high fan expectations. Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen has been looking for a new coach since the beginning of the season when Coach Andy Cannizaro was fired for an alleged affair with an athletic department employee.

Still looking for a new leader even tough the interim coach , Gary Henderson, formerly at Kentucky, wrapped up a championship in the NCAA Regional at Tallahassee on Monday. It’s possible Mississippi State will host Vanderbilt in a Super Regional next week. Cohen is probably still in the hunt despite the team’s recent success.

Dan McDonnell reportedly turned down overtures from Auburn baseball a few years ago, saying something to the effect that grass is not always greener somewhere else. McDonnell has built something special at Louisville and he knows it, exceeding the expectations he has set for the program on an ongoing basis.

Mississippi State is a whole different story, with a whole new level of pressures and assumptions, and a rowdy and demanding fan base   Whether that appeals to McDonnell wants remains to be seen, but he has always seemed happy at Louisville. The Bulldogs have a lot to offer, and no UofL baseball fan can relax for now.

Jurich refused to bad mouth UofL during some tough times

Tom Jurich remained loyal to his friends and to the University of Louisville even when at least one individual in his employ made major mistakes and after he was fired by the Board of Trustees and erroneously accused of wrongdoing by an interim administrator.

Loyal after his trust was betrayed, resisting the urge to be critical, remaining positive about the University. Told to leave a job he treasured, depart a campus he had transformed, and an athletic department that he had revamped and molded into a collegiate powerhouse during his 20 years on the job.   

Tom Jurich’s affinity for UofL remained strong despite everything that happened (Charlie Springer photos).

Doubtful Tom will ever fully recover from the awful shock and the hurt he suffered in the early morning hours of October 18  when he was dismissed from UofL. That was a dark day for everyone involved, everyone associated with the school.

Unfortunately, it took the threat of a lawsuit for the Board of Trustees to make up for some of the injustices. There were still no apologies, but the Trustees approved a settlement with Jurich. The arrangement stipulates that he will receive no less than $4.5 million, ending any litigation between the two parties.

Jurich deserved, and could have commanded, much more than he finally received.

The settlement also calls for Jurich to get no less than $911,000 from his Deferred Compensation Plan and another $1.76 million to be paid out over the next eight years, as well as health coverage until he and his wife are eligible for Medicare.  He will also receive eight club level season ticket licenses for UofL football and basketball games for the next 20 years.

Equally important, the agreement also changes the reason for his exit from the university from “fired with cause” to “terminated without cause due to resignation.”  The letter of dismissal will be removed from his personnel file.

Louisville is fortunate that Jurich is the person he is.  He could have allowed the lawsuit to continue, possibly collecting tens of millions in more dollars from the school. Jurich deserved, and could have commanded, much more than he finally received.

The gut feeling here is that Tom had no desire to inflict more than financial or reputational harm to the University than has already occurred. He’s just that kind of individual, and he continues to have strong feelings for UofL, still wanting the school to grow and prosper. 

We have missed seeing Tom and his son Mark around the campus. Let’s hope they will use those football and basketball tickets often in the future.

Hines-Allen leaves a legacy after overtime loss in Final Four

Myisha Hines-Allen had to know it was all but over the moment no whistle was blown after she was muscled into the backstop on that layup in the closing seconds. A throw down of epic proportions, no way was she going to be allowed to make that shot.

Four great seasons for come to an end for Myisha Hines-Allen in the Final Four at Columbus.

A sad way to end a brilliant career for one of all-time greats in the annals of University of Louisville women’s basketball. Just 10 seconds earlier she had given the Cardinals a three-point lead, choosing to widen the lead instead of waiting to get fouled or running out the clock.

Fate had made it possible, a championship opportunity had beckoned, but it had slipped through their fingers. Mississippi State would take full advantage, wearing down the Cardinals 73-63 in overtime. Leaving Myisha in tears, frustrating UofL fans again in a non-existent rivalry with a team from somewhere in Mississippi.

Hines-Allen will be remembered in a lot of different ways by UofL fans, mostly for the toughness with which she played, especially during her senior season in her team to a 36-3 won-lost record, the best in the school’s history.

Hines-Allen became just the second UofL women’s player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, joining Angel McCoughtry in that elite company. She has 16 double-doubles this season and her 45 career double-doubles rank second in school history. She also has 373 total rebounds this season, the most in program history.

The leadership yoke now falls to her teammates, in good hands with players like Asia Durr, Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter. Each of them making significant contributions during a memorable season, hopefully stronger, wiser and more determined.

The play of Hines-Allen during her final season at UofL should provide plenty of inspiration. Filling her shoes will be a major challenge.