Schnatter could benefit from tour of University of Louisville campus

Despite all the negativity occurring in the administration building across campus, the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is continuing — right on schedule and within budget — much to the chagrin of at least one prominent local resident.

Thanks to the vision of Tom Jurich, former Vice President of Athletics, the University of Louisville football program will have one of the finest facilities in the country. The 10,000-seat addition to the north end zone will be concrete reminder of what Jurich accomplished during his 20 years and a symbol of what the University can become again.

John Schnatter in a position to make some positive things happen at UofL, offsetting some of his previous actions.

However, John Schnatter, who heads the company that branded the stadium, continues to badmouth the expansion. His logic is that expanding the stadium is bad when faculty salaries have been flat over the last decade — the old argument of academics vs. athletics. Never mind that the $55 million expansion is fully funded by private donations.

Schnatter appears to be unaware of construction of a new four-story, $83 million classroom facility which will be open for the fall semester of the 2018 academic year. That’s the same date as the completion of a $30 million update and expansion of the Student Activities Center.

These academic facilities, combined with the stadium expansion, will greatly enhance Belknap Campus, making UofL a much more attractive destination for prospective students. The campus has already been recognized as one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses by Travel & Leisure magazine.

Schnatter continues to be a negative voice on the Board of Trustees, despite being the driving force behind the inexplicable dismissal of Jurich. One suspects that Schnatter was angry because he was not asked to donate to an expansion of the stadium that bears his company’s name.

If that’s the case, Schnatter had exacted his revenge. As a member of the Board of Trustees, it is time for him to get about the business of helping to restore the University to its former greatness and financial stability. There should be no place on the UofL board for someone who seems to hold a grudge against the school.

Many of the current issues, including the decline in donations, have exacerbated since the David Grissom-headed board was appointed in January 2017. Schnatter, apparently at Grissom’s encouragement,  has allowed himself to be used as a wedge, further damaging the reputation of  the athletic department.

He resigned from the UofL Athletic Association board in April 2017 without any explanation. However, he’s still on the UofL Board of Trustees and the University of Louisville Foundation Board of Directors. One wonders if he is so unhappy with the school how much longer he will continue in those positions.

Schnatter has done a lot for UofL, having contributed almost $25 million to the school, including $19.1 for naming rights to the stadium. He’s obviously wealthy enough and in key positions to do more. There is so much much he can do, and UofL has never needed his support more than it does now.

Time for some constructive leadership from Papa John.

Digging up dirt on Jurich latest insult to University of Louisville

UofL supporters have endured an avalanche of bad news and insults in the past couple of years but none that have embarrassed the University more than the latest indignity.  About as low it gets, one has to be humiliated on behalf of the school.

Just when one believes the temporary administration might be restoring a sense of civility and normality at the University of Louisville, here comes the word that someone at UofL is complicit with a law firm using a private detective agency to dig up dirt on Tom Jurich.  

Someone is going to say such investigations are routine in lawsuits against individuals and they may be right. However, in this case it is more of a blatant, awkward and misguided attempt to damage his reputation. Of all the revelations and events that have occurred since Jim Ramsey was forced to resign as UofL President in August 2016, this is the most shocking. That Jurich would be the subject of an investigation is beyond comprehension, showing just how far some will go to discredit an individual. 

Tom Jurich embraces UofLBaseball Coach Dan McDonnell for his continuing success in NCAA regional competition.

That’s Tom Jurich, mind you, the squeaky clean former Vice President of Athletics at the school. The same individual who took a struggling athletic department and made it a model of success. Made UofL nationally competitive in 22 sports. Built an athletic complex that is the envy of college athletics, taking the budget from $9 million in 1997 to more than $100 million today.

Stoll, Keenon, Ogden, a regional law firm representing the university against Jurich, has not admitted that it has hired a private investigation agency, citing client-attorney privilege.  One would have been surprised if they had acknowledged it, especially if an investigation is not yielding anything useful. 

Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich's reputation.

Someone involved with the probe from a detective agency approached the Courier-Journal seeking info about “any allegations of sexual harassment between Jurich and females involved with the University.” As if the C-J would not have already plastered any hints of sexual harassment all over the front page for at least two weeks. It’s what the C-J does but that didn’t occur to the so-called detectives.

The University is obviously facing a major challenge in finding evidence to support its charges of “willful misconduct” and “ineffective management, divisive leadership, unprofessional conduct,” and “intimidation and bullying” in the letter delivered to Jurich in October.

Interim President Greg Postel has denied any knowledge of a private investigation. Board Chairman David Grissom and Board Member John Schnatter never respond to the media . But they will rightfully incur the wrath of angry Louisville fans and alumni for this latest blow to the University’s integrity and reputation.

The last thing Postel needed was for Jurich to be the target of a criminal investigation. He had already angered a large segment of the UofL by firing the most respected administrator in the school’s 220-year history. His  attempted dismantling of TJ’s legacy will come back to haunt him.

He’s currently competing for two major leadership posts, including the permanent office of UofL President and permanent Executive Vice President of Health Affairs. Instead of acknowledging what has been accomplished, Postel continues to seek to destroy Jurich’s reputation. That should be unacceptable to anyone who has witnessed UofL’s growth in athletics over the past two decades.

Louisville women are 18-0 but Notre Dame is next

Not that getting to 18-0 was easy.

Asia Durr scored 19 of her 21 points in the first half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Now comes the hard part of the schedule for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, fresh from a 67-56 win over Virginia Tech before a crowd of 7,523 at the KFC Yum! Center. Next up for the Cardinals is Notre Dame.

UofL has lost the last 11 meetings with the Irish, the No. 2 team in most recent Associated Press poll. Notre Dame owns a 15-1 record, the only loss coming to top ranked Connecticut by a margin of nine points.

Getting past Notre Dame will require a rare 40-minute effort. After Sunday’s win, Coach Jeff Walz was again bemoaning the loss of intensity in a second half.  The Cardinals were outscored by the Hokies in the third (14-8)  and fourth quarters (17-11) after owning a 23-point lead in the first half.

He noted some improvement over previous games in which UofL let opponents back in games after overcoming huge deficits. But he warned that the Cardinals are in for some serious testing. An obvious weakness against Virginia Tech was not finding shooters down the stretch.

Asia Durr, for example, was open often during the second half but took only five shots. She had scored all but two of her game-leading 21 points in the first half. Myisha Hines-Allen scored six of her eight points in the first half as well.

Meanwhile, Sydney Zambrotta, third of the team with 13 three-point completions this season, has gone into a slump. She hasn’t made a 3-pointer in the past five games, missing all 11 of her shots beyond the three-point line.

Enjoy being undefeated.

Blowout too good to last, but Louisville women are 16-0

Nature of the game apparently.

Those leads in basketball games of double digits almost never last. Inevitable that North Carolina State would rally from a 26-1 deficit to scare the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.

The Cardinals, lulled into slumber mode by the all the NC State misfires in the first half, would be fortunate to emerge with the 55-47 win over the Wolf Pack at Raleigh. The win improved UofL’s won-lost record to 16-0, the best start in the program’s history.

Myisha Hines-Allen refuses to wilt in fourth quarter.

No surprise whatsoever that the home team would cut the margin to four points in the fourth quarter with just over three minutes remaining. Myisha Hines-Allen, who was Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year two seasons ago, was not ready to wilt, however.

Hines-Allen would deliver the dagger, blocking an NC State shot, grabbing the defensive rebound and making good on a layup to stretch the lead to six points again.  She would, in fact, score six of her 17 points when they needed most, in that fourth quarter.

Asia Durr, who shared game-scoring honors with Myisha, was challenged during the final 10 minutes. Missing two field goal attempts while turning the ball over twice. She would, however, make two free throw attempts to extend the lead to eight points.

Nobody really expected N.C. State to roll over. Doesn’t work that way.

Time for next stage in Lamar Jackson’s career

Fortunately the loss to Mississippi State will not be the game people remember about Lamar Jackson’s college career

Over-reliance on any one player, however, is never a good thing. Probably the best thing for Jackson and the University of Louisville football program if he decides soon to pursue a career in the National Football League.

Almost impossible for Jackson to live up to massive expectations. Every sensational play, every pass completion, every dazzling run, every touchdown making him indispensable to his team. If Jackson wasn’t involved, it wasn’t going to happen.

Coach Bobby Petrino, getting away from the offensive strategies that have worked well for him in the past, was overly dependent on the instincts of one player. UofL’s success, or lack of it, may have suffered as a result, with little evidence of progress in the team’s overall development.

When Jackson was having a off day or not getting enough protection, he was prone to making major mistakes as he was Saturday when he threw four interceptions in the 31-27 loss to Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

It got to a point where some fans closed their eyes when he dropped back to pass. A fifth interception seemed inevitable. He completed 13 of 31 passing attempts for 171 yards with a passing efficiency mark of only 47.4% for the game.

Jackson gained 158 yards on the ground, including a touchdown, on 24 carries, not wanting to give up the ball to his running backs. Possibly for good reason with Malik Williams, Reggie Bonnafon, and Dae Williams combining for only 29 yards on 15 chances.

Bonnafon, a senior, was one of those teammates who never quite lived up to his potential. He finished the final game of his career with 13 yards rushing. He was never a real punt return threat, gaining nine yards on his only return Saturday.

“Lamar’s a great competitor and he has big shoulders,” said Petrino afterwards. “He competed extremely hard. We were in a position to win the game because of how hard he ran and the touchdowns he made …

“I would love to see him come back. Lamar needs to sit down with his parents and try to understand ‘What would better develop me?’ There have been guys who have come back for another year, playing the same system and do great. He’s really needs to do what is best him. He’s been an unbelievable player and a great person.”

Jackson has created some incredible memories for fans over the past three seasons. Time for him to move on, however, time to focus on the his future in the NFL.  UofL needs to move on as well, focusing on the team’s total development, getting everyone involved, and seriously competing again in the Atlantic Coast Conference.