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.

Let the Chris Mack era begin at Louisville

While acknowledging some issues, Chris Mack chooses to look forward at Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

All the flack endured by the University of Louisville over the past couple of years was unfortunate but none of the issues did anything to dampen Chris Mack’s admiration of the UofL basketball program. His respect was such that he would leave his hometown and give up a nine-year coaching stint at his alma mater to take charge at Louisville.

Three-year-old Brayden vied with the press with his father’s attention during Chris Mack’s introductory press conference at the University of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“This is an awesome and exciting day for me and my family, the opportunity of a lifetime,” he told the crowd of approximately 350 people at his introductory press conference at the KFC Yum! Center. “Standing here before you representing a school that has had two permanent basketball coaches since 1971., two hall of fame coaches, multiple final fours, multiple national championships, and multiple All-Americans … ”

The new UofL coach was accompanied on the stage by his wife Christi, his daughters, Hailee, 11, and Lainee (12). His 3-year-old son Brayden also was there but not long, wandering the back of the meeting room where he was heavily pre-occupied with  Play Doh.

Former UofL Coach Denny Crum tells Chris Mack that he made a good decision to move his family to Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

If Mack sounded like someone living the dream, it was because he has long admired UofL basketball. “I told the UofL players it was not easy to leave a situation in which less than 24 hours ago I was in another locker room with another group of players with a lot of tears,” he said. “To leave Xavier to come here, this place had to be pretty special. And it is, very special.”

Chris Mack became Vince Tyra’s first major hire since assuming athletic director responsibilities at UofL (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Sharing his enthusiasm is his wife, the former Christi Hester, who grew up in the Louisville area. She was runner-up for Miss Kentucky Basketball as a senior at Holy Cross High School in 1996.  Runner-up to Jaime Richey, the sister of Jeff Walz, who coaches the UofL women’s basketball team.

During his nine-year tenure at Xavier University, Mack was considered a candidate for some other major coaching jobs, but chose not to leave. “Some people say, ‘Why go there (to Louisville?). He’s crazy’. I have never been afraid of a challenge. I faced a lot of adversity during my playing years (including ACL injuries in both knees).  It was a tough decision but in my heart I knew it was the right decision.”

Mack said it was not his job to look backwards but to look forward.  “I told these guys (the UofL players) that this is my final stop,” he said. “I’m never going to coach at another university, not in the NBA, or in high school. I can’t wait to get started.”

Cardinal Renaissance, rising from ashes at University of Louisville

 
 
by Steve Springer 
 
The year of our Lord, two thousand and thirteen, was christened “The Year of The Cardinal.”  All University of Louisville sports were flourishing.  Teddy Bridgewaters. Final Fours. Sugar Bowls. Russdiculous’s.   Terrell Floyd pick-sixes. Devante Parkers. Gorgui Diengs.  Peyton Sivas. Shoni Schimmel. Conference championships. ACC induction on the horizon. And yes, a National Championship.  Thank you Charlie Strong, Rick Pitino, Dan McDonnell, Jeff Walz.  Things could not have been better.  The architects of the aforementioned glorious age.  For over a thousand generations these coaches were the guardians of peace and justice. Before the Dark Times.  
 
Okay, sorry, Obiwan. So it wasn’t exactly over a thousand generations, but you get the analogy.  Everything was right a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away. Although it has seemed like it for the last few years.
 
Vince Tyra has a chance to possibly usher in a renaissance, rebirth, reformation, realignment, rehabilitation, recovery, reawakening,  renewal, restoration, revival, all the other re’s that are out there that my online thesaurus forgot to include. 
 
Vince Tyra named Athletic Director to return University of Louisville to prominence (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Mr. Tyra has finally been anointed as Athletic Director at The University of Louisville.  A title that is sacred to the English version of knighthood basically in the kingdom of the city of Louisville. He has gargantuan armor boots to fill that were unceremoniously stripped from Sir Thomas Jurich.  The kingdom will be watching, some skeptically, some anxiously, some placated, as he takes the throne and his first decree is to anoint a new men’s basketball coach.

 
The bigger scuttlebutt making its way around the land is Tyra will hand the keys of the kingdom over to Minuteman Chris Mack on Tuesday.  If Mack was to continue his current trajectory, he could possible lead the men’s team back to glory.  He can build upon the castle that Crum, Jurich, Pitino have built and expand the realm and rehang the banner that was stolen by the malcontents, the dissidents, the scourge. 
 

How about a Cardinal that rises from the ashes with red fire instead of feathers? 

 
Puma Pass is inheriting the keys to the gridiron from Heisman hero Lamar Jackson.  As great as Jackson was, there seemed to be a ceiling to what the gridiron templars could accomplish under his reign, probably through no fault of his own.  Coach Petrino can now hopefully run his offense in the more traditional manner that we were accustomed to and maybe Puma can shatter that ceiling and lift the Cards into the next stratosphere, starting with a Davidesque slaying of Alabubba Goliath this fall.  Legend hints of this already happening before from days of old.
 

Continue reading “Cardinal Renaissance, rising from ashes at University of Louisville”

Walz impressed by Louisville champs, on and off the court

In top photo, Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring celebrate along with Coach Jeff Walz. Above, Sydney Zambrotta, Sam Fuehring, Asia Durr, Jessica Laemmle and Arica Carter with more of the same following their NCAA regional championship win at Rupp Arena [Cindy Rice Shelton photos].
Coach Jeff Walz welcomes Asia Durr after she departs the game with 18 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A special group of young women, with players getting along great together, adding one milestone after another, deserving everything they earn.

Before Jeff Walz arrived at the University of Louisville 11 seasons ago, the women’s basketball program had never been to the Sweet 16. He updated the record on Sunday, noting that every four-year player he has coached at UofL has been to the Final Four.

The Louisville women will so0n be hanging still another banner at the KFC Yum! Center in the near future.  A Final Four banner for sure, with still a shot at the ultimate, having already achieved one of the best seasons in the school’s history.

Jeff Walz holding Lucy and accompanied by Lola, her older sister. Those are assistants Stephanie Norman and Samantha Wiliams in background (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The Cardinals continued their impressive run in the 2018  NCAA Tournament with a dominating 76-43 win over Oregon State team in the Lexington Regional at Rupp Arena. A school record 36th win over the season against only two losses.  UofL moves to the Final Four for the third time in Coach Jeff Walz’ tenure.

The dominance was total, with the Cardinals forcing Oregon State into 17 turnovers and making only three themselves . UofL would outscore the Beavers 24-0 on turnovers.  Four of those steals coming in the third quarter when UofL would erupt, extending a seven-point halftime lead to 30 points.

Nobody wears that Final Four hat quite like Myisha Hines-Allen (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville would also hold the Beavers, who were averaging nine 3-pointers a game, to only five in this one, and limiting them to only 15 field goals. Oregon State wrapped up the season with a 26-8 record.

Four Cardinals scored in double figures, led by 18 points from Asia Durr, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player.  Myisha Hines-Allen scored 16 points and made three steals. Sam Fuehring scored 14 and Carter added 10. Jazmine Jones scored all four of her points during that explosive third quarter.

 While Walz was thrilled with the effort, he said he was even more impressed with his team’s performance off the floor. “We truly do have young women who are wonderful role models to my children,” he said, pausing to gather himself. “That means more to me than winning basketball games.

“When my daughter is out there in the yard and tells me she’s Lola Hines-Allen, my other daughter tells me she’s Lucy Durr, and she tells mom ‘You’re going to be the official.’ The impact our players have on their lives means everything to me.

“It’s a wonderful experience to get back to the Final Four, and I want to thank the players for being the kind of people they are.”