Handmaker provides insight into Jim Ramsey’s compensation at UofL

Jim Ramsey and Junior Bridgeman during one of Ramsey’s final board meetings at UofL.

Somewhere in Florida, Jim Ramsey is catching up on his golf game, hopefully recovering from some of the controversy that surrounded his departure as President of the University of Louisville last year.

As she resigned, Margaret Handmaker provided some facts on issues affecting UofL’s efforts to fend off attempts by a competitor university to recruit Jim Ramsey away from Louisville.

Some additional perspective on Ramsey’s compensation at UofL was recently provided by Margaret Handmaker when she submitted her resignation from the UofL Foundation to Diane Medley, the new Chairman of the Foundation.

Ramsey was sharply criticized by some former members of the University Board of Trustees for what some believed was excessive remuneration. The annual compensation in his IRS returns between 2012 and 2014 was confusing because his reported income apparently included deferred payments.

The criticism, not surprisingly, came from Trustees who were not around when the University Board in 2005 adopted a Deferred Compensation Plan — a practice employed by universities to attract and retain key leaders through competitive levels of total compensation and deferred vesting.

Diane Medley recently assumed the chairmanship of the UofL Foundation. She’s also a member of the UofL Board of Trustees.

In her letter of resignation,Handmaker noted that the UofL Foundation would “be faced with a significant shortage of institutional memory” moving forward with a new Interim Executive Director, all new University Trustees, and all new UofL Foundation board members.

She also noted that “as with other complex boards, the  University relies on a committee structure to report information to the full board. Any suggestion that Trustees do not know what is going on at the Foundation is not well informed.”

She attached a memo in which she stated:

— “President Ramsey was recruited by the University of Tennessee, and the UofL Trustees felt strongly that they wanted to do “whatever it took” to keep him at the University of Louisville.

— “In discussions with President Ramsey, the Chair of the Trustees learned that the President did not want a higher salary, but a supplemental retirement benefit would be attractive to him.

— “Once again, the Trustees asked the Foundation to pay this benefit.

— “The same person chaired both the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board (as was often the case), so the “ask” was a bit of a formality. The grant and the ultimate payout of the retention plan was reported in the Foundation’s IRS Form 990, which is available to the members of all boards and to the public.”

Kathleen Smith was a key member of Ramsey’s staff at the University while also overseeing Foundation activities.

Ramsey also came under attack for retention bonuses for some of his staff, including Kathleen Smith, who served his chief of staff at the University and for the UofL Foundation.

Handmaker notes in her memo that “when (the late) Chester Porter was chair of both boards, he said that it was critically important to discourage Kathleen Smith from electing early retirement. A retention plan for Kathleen was designed by Chester and implemented by the Foundation.” Smith was placed on paid leave last fall.

Handmaker was among four directors who resigned from a group that also included Dr. Salem George, Joyce Hagen, and Dr. William Selvidge. 

They were around when Jim Ramsey was in the midst of transforming the University from a commuter school to a member in full standing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, significant improvements in the GPA average of incoming freshmen and higher graduation rates, unprecedented growth in the University’s endowment, unparalleled growth of the physical campus and a boom in student housing.

They saw the best of times under Jim Ramsey and, in recent months, some of the most challenging days ever for UofL. 

Super Hero Night at the KFC Yum! Center

 Thursday’s women’s basketball game between the University of Louisville and North Carolina State was Super Heroes Night at the KFC Yum! Center. The event attracted 8,251 fans, many of them dressed as their favorite comic strip characters.

Card Game photographer Cindy Rice Shelton was on hand, capturing many of the fans on digital, along with some game action.  UofL could have used some heroic action on the court, falling short 72-70 in overtime. Click on an image below to begin a slide show:

Too many ‘My bads,’ Louisville women fall to NC State

Kenna Harke, a member of the UofL Ladybirds, arrived with a Batman mask on Super Heroes night at the KFC Yum! Center.  A crowd of 8,251 was in attendance.

“My fault.”

Jeff Walz said those are the two favorite words in the collective vocabulary of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team after losing a 72-70 decision in overtime to North Carolina State Thursday.

Closely behind would have to be”My bad,” with players willing to take the blame when things go badly. “We just had too many breakdowns,” he said. “Pretty soon our kids are going to have to realize that every possession matters. It’s not just one, it’s a variety of players. 

“We’ve got to get past ‘my fault’ and ‘my bad’ and getting it done,” he continued. “A lot of getting lost on defense, breaking down at crunch time.”

Never mind that UofL’s Myisha Hines-Allen was missing in action with an undisclosed knee injury, Walz expected the remaining players to fill the void left by last season’s player of the year in the ACC.

NC State, which failed to make the NCAA tournament last year after a late season loss to UofL, was eager to avenge that loss. “That loss may have kept them out of the tournament,” said Walz. “They came in hungry.

The Wolfpack was not going to go away even after UofL raced to 24-10 lead in the first quarter,. They  had cut it to three points at the half and led by seven points after the third quarter. A couple of free throws by Asia Durr enabled the Cardinals to even the score at 61-61 to go into overtime.

UofL would miss three shots on one offensive series during the opening minute of overtime, two of them seemingly wide open. “We had some great looks in overtime but couldn’t convert,” he said. “It’s another heartbreaker for us, another loss to a top 15 team.”

The fatal blow was a last second jump shot by NC State’s Miah Spencer. 

No complaints from the coach about turnovers, UofL had only eight of them. There’s no category for wide open shots on the stat sheets but Louisville made only 22 of 68 field goal attempts.

Walz said he doesn’t know whether Hines-Allen will be available to participate in Monday night’s game at Notre Dame. UofL is now 20-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play.

Louisville fans stay on top of action on Caribbean cruise

The observer disembarks at Cozumel, Mexico, headed for the beach.

A nice return to Louisville, seeing the prominent “Welcome To Card Nation” banner with the Adidas logo over the entrance to the main corridor at Louisville International Airport. Good to be home again.

UofL signage throughout the airport at points along the corridor and in the baggage return area. Someone in the marketing department has done his or her homework, thanks to the resources provided by Tom Jurich. No doubt which school “owns” this transportation hub, the UofL graphics greeting thousands of visitors annually.

Life on the beach in late January for two University of Louisville fans.

We were among a group of approximately 60 people returned Sunday from a UofL-Alumni Association- hosted seven-day cruise to the Caribbean aboard the Celebrity Silhouette, with scheduled stops to the Bahamas, Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.

So much food on these cruises, so many choices, making decisions challenging, and making staying on a diet impossible. No scrimping on anything at breakfast, lunch or dinner, capping it off with lobster late in the week. Ordered three scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning and they delivered three trays with three plates of three scrambled eggs on each of them. A minor lapse in communciation. So much eat, so little restraint.

Contrary to some reports, the sombrero remains a popular fashion item in Mexico, at least for musicians.

Good to keep running into UofL people, including at a pre-cruise orientation and aboard the ship all week. Plenty to talk about with everything that has happened at the University this past year. The group was accompanied by Lisa Lewis and Hayley Smith of Platinum Travel who hosted a party and provided nice gifts to the cruisers, including UofL T-shirts, playing cards, candy, a bottle of wine and an 8 x 10 photo of our fellow travelers.

The door to our cabin included a brass plate with our names and another welcome from UofL. The ship also offered our choice of several incentives, including unlimited free wi-fi, which was especially nice. What’s really good is that Internet reception has improved dramatically in recent years.

On the ship, we were able to watch two UofL basketball games on the I-pad, including the men’s thrashing of Pittsburgh and the women’s win over Clemson. In previous years, we were sometimes unable to even get scores until the next day. On the return flight, we watched the men wallop North Carolina State and the women take down Pittsburgh. 

The first scheduled stop at the Bahamas was cancelled because of inclement weather and 12-foot waves, enabling the passengers to sleep in on the first couple of days. Temperatures in Cozumel and Grand Cayman were in the 80’s, the water was clear and the beaches were nice. We saw lots of collegiate logos but not one from UK the entire week on a ship with a capacity of 2,886 passengers.

Temperatures were in the 60’s when we departed Louisville on Sunday and we were wearing light jackets. Quite a shock seven days later returning home to an iced-over windshield and temperatures in the low 30’s. 

A nice unhurried and relaxing experience. If one is considering a trip, we highly recommend considering one of the cruises offered by the University of Louisville Alumni Association.  Great trip, actually, but always glad to get back home, to Card Nation. No place we’d rather be than in Louisville … unless it is with the kids, of course.

Update: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion


Not much new in the way of construction at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Friday afternoon, at least inside the stadium.

The earth moving equipment seemed to be about the same place as it was when we last visited about four weeks ago. The only sign of actual construction appeared to be on the beginnings of what appears to be a concrete bunker in the southwest corner.

For now, University of Louisville football fans will have to be happy with a 2017 football recruiting class that has been ranked as high as 20th by some analysts. National signing day is Wednesday, February 1.