Ken Lolla misses having Tom Jurich around

Ken Lolla with son Tyler and wife Tina shortly after UofL soccer competed in the College Cup championship game in 2011 (Photo by Charlie Springer).

This Observer is still trying to come to grips with Ken Lolla’s surprising decision to resign as head coach of the University of Louisville soccer team. One of the highest paid college coaches, with the absolute best facilities, and the solid support of the fan base. Just up and leaves.

Lolla has indicated that he accepted the UofL job because he got caught in Tom Jurich’s vision for the athletic program. Took the job because of Jurich and was rewarded with a $17 million stadium, the envy of college soccer programs everywhere.

Tom Jurich at the opening of the Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium in 2014.

One suspects that Lolla never got over how Jurich was abruptly dismissed by an interim President in 2017, fired with “cause” for what later proved to be allegations with no basis in fact. The Lollas and Jurichs were close friends and the treatment left an indelible impression on Lolla.

“We came here because of Tom’s leadership style and the way he handled people, and really his vision as well,” Lolla told WLKY-TV.  “It was very easy to get caught in that wave of Tom’s vision and what he saw. 

“It was intoxicating, motivating and exciting at the same time. Did that change when he left? Certainly, it did. Not to disparage anyone else, but (when) somebody like that, as dynamic as he is, leaves, there’s a void.”

As good as Vince Tyra is proving to be as athletic director, there is still a vacuum to be filled at UofL with the absence of Tom Jurich. Anyone who watched what he built over two decades feels it and misses Jurich. The University owes him a great deal.

Ken Lolla is right. He felt strongly enough about the treatment of Jurich that he finally resigned in mid-stream to face an uncertain future. He came because of Tom Jurich and could no longer do without Tom around.

Any acknowledgement of Jurich’s accomplishments should not perceived as Tyra shortcomings. Tyra has been impressive in following a legend, making unprecedented efforts to listen to fans and to respond to their concerns. . Tyra didn’t need the job, taking it because UofL needed someone like him at the helm during at a critical time for the school. He is the right man at the right time.

If at all possible, however, the University needs to find a way to show its appreciation Tom Jurich for all he did. UofL needs to welcome him and his family back into the fold, certainly on a honorary basis. He should always be a part of the University of Louisville.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

One thought on “Ken Lolla misses having Tom Jurich around”

  1. “UofL needs to welcome him and his family back into the fold, certainly on a honorary basis. He should always be a part of the University of Louisville”

    You nailed it. I was raised by a UofL alum, and recall occasionally watching Denny Crum basketball and Schnellenberger football with my Dad, but in general I don’t remember seeing much to cheer for. That is, until Tom Jurich took over and every sport began competing for championships. I am now myself a UofL alum, and after the new administration took over, I am back to where I was before Tom Jurich, without much to cheer for.

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