What happens at the top can have a profound impact on University of Louisville athletics.
The recent appointment of Larry Hayes to the UofL board of trustees by Governor Steve Beshear is an interesting choice, given some of the recent interactions within the board.
Hayes, who recently announced his retirement as Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, also serves as the Chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, which handles the financing and debt service of the KFC Yum! Center.
Hayes also happened to serve as Deputy Mayor to former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson from 2003 to 2007. The relationship is important because Abramson reportedly wanted to be the next UofL President in 2002.
A former UofL Trustee confirmed to Card Game that then UofL board chairman George Fisher was under considerable pressure to back Abramson for the UofL post. Fisher trusted his instincts, stood his ground, and threw his support to Ramsey.
What followed over the next dozen years was the greatest growth in the University of Louisville’s history, with impressive improvements in academic achievement and physical facilities, accompanied by acceptance into the Atlantic Coast Conference and an unprecedented surge in national recognition.
Back to Hayes, he, more than likely, maintains a close relationship with Abramson, who is currently serving as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama administration. Abramson will be out of a job in 2016, looking for opportunities again in Louisville. Whether he would be a viable candidate at 68 is a big question. Probably not, but political payback is often in play with politicans for life.
Another question is how Hayes will interact with Steve Wilson and Craig Greenberg, the business partners on the UofL Board of Trustees, who were behind the effort to conduct an audit on the University of Louisville Foundation. In his position in the Mayor’s Office, Hayes had a lot of interaction with Wilson and Greenberg on the massive Museum Plaza project over a long period of time.
Hayes has done a commendable job of navigating the KFC Yum! Center through some challenging political and financial waters while UofL continues to receive enormous benefits. However, he has also suggested the arena would be an ideal site for an NBA franchise, A concept that does not go over well with many people on Belknap Campus, creating considerable competion for sponsorship dollars.
One would hope that he is pro-active for the University of Louisville, using his considerable energies on the board of trustees in a constructive way.