Cardinal Stadium going to be lavish, and louder than ever

Athletic Director Vince Tyra welcomes media reps to a preview of the expanded Cardinal Stadium (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The “wow factor” is going to be very much in evidence in the end zone expansion of Cardinal Stadium, exceeding expectations in every respect from conception to reality. The final product is going to transform the image of University of Louisville football and where it wants to go.

Vince Tyra and Bobby Petrino, clad in safety gear, discuss the advantages of the greatly expanded football complex (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

There was Vince Tyra standing on the 20-yard line Tuesday, the man who succeeded the conceptualist Tom Jurich as UofL Athletic Director. Talking about how great the 6,000-plus-seat addition is going to be for the first home game in September. 

He said the fan experience for ticket holders in the expansion is going to be exceptional, with great views of the action on the field. And it’s going to provide Coach Bobby Petrino with some new recruiting tools in a facility that is player focused, with awesome training facilities, along with medical offices and leisure time activities.

Ultra deluxe lockers for UofL football players (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“It’s also going to be very loud with the stadium enclosed for the first time,” said Tyra. “I’m going to be as excited as anybody to hear the noise. We get pretty rowdy in here for some of the big games. The sound is going to go up another level.”

Still quite a bit of finishing work to be done before the team moves into the new facility at end of July but Tyra is confident the job will be done on time and on budget.

A couple of surprises unveiled during the preview, including the fact that the end zone expansion actually includes parking access for fans in some of the premium boxes. Also, the new structure is actually tied to the existing stands on the east and west sides by extensions that include seating for about 30 people on each side of the stadium.

“It’s going to be incredible,” said Petrino, who can’t wait to get moved in in July , saying the expansion included everything he could possibly have wanted for his football program.

Louisville Polo saddles up for UofL medical research

Imagine one’s surprise upon learning that there is a horse polo team at the University of Louisville. There is, indeed, a club and it’s closely tied to the Louisville Polo Club. They teamed up last weekend at Oxmoor Farm for a fundraiser to benefit research for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s medical research at UofL. Photographer Cindy Rice Shelton, who shoots regularly for Card Game, was on hand for the event. Lucky us.

 

 

 

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.

Neeli Bendapudi big hit in first game at Jim Patterson Stadium

Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell and President Neeli Bendapudi at her first University of Louisville baseball game (Charlie Springer photos).

Neeli Bendapudi was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the University of Louisville – Indiana University baseball game on Tuesday.  A few days earlier, however, she had suffered a torn rotator cuff while unpacking at her new UofL home.

UofL softball pitcher Meagan Hensley threw out the first pitch for UofL President Neeli Bendapudi.

Meagan Hensley, a UofL softball pitcher, would happily throw the ball for Bendapudi at her first athletic event as the new University of Louisville President.  She was accompanied by her husband Venkat, a senior lecturer in the School of Business at Kansas University.

Bendapudi departed Jim Patterson Stadium shortly after the game started, presumably for other UofL business, only to return during the seventh inning. She was seen walking the steps in different areas of stadium, introducing herself to many of the 2,257 fans in attendance.

Venkat Bendapudi is a senior lecturer in the Business School at Kansas U.

People were eager to get to know her, letting her know how excited they were to have her in Louisville. Many of them wanting to have their pictures taken with her. Neeli, in return, happily posing with them, frequently throwing up the L sign, laughing, smiling, loving every minute of the interaction with the fans.

This observer actually had a couple of minutes before the game to chat with her, finding her to be engaging, warm and enthusiastic.  She makes a great first impression with everyone she meets, exuding a sincere and determined desire to do great things at UofL.

She’s clearly excited to be in Louisville and was busy cementing friendships for the University at her first UofL baseball game. Watch for her soon at a Louisville sporting event near you.

Neeli Bendapudi was everywhere in Jim Patterson stadium it seemed, engaging and getting to know UofL fans on her first day on the job.

Bendapudi ushers in a new era at the University of Louisville

A new person in the President’s Office at the University of Louisville today, ushering in a new era.  Surely an end to the divisiveness that has plagued the campus for the past three years.

Time to move on.

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, the 18th President at UofL, was welcomed by approximately 200 students, staff and faculty members to her first day on the job on the steps of Grawemeyer Hall early Tuesday morning. And with that milestone, one transformation is complete, and the vacuum has been filled.

A new day in more ways than one for the school that was founded 220 years ago in 1798. Over the past several months, the University has also selected a new Chief Operating Officer, a new Dean of the Brandeis School of Law, a new Dean of the J.B. Speed Engineering School, in addition to a new Athletic Director and a new Basketball Coach. One of the few key administrative jobs remaining open is that of Provost, who will work side-by-side with Bendapudi on raising the school’s academic profile.

Bendapudi seems to be exactly what the University needs right now, with an impressive background in marketing and fundraising at Kansas University. She obviously appeals to many UofL support groups, with her status as a female, as a person of color,  and with her foreign birth. She has stressed her emphasis on diversity and inclusion at every appearance thus far. 

Especially refreshing is that she embraces a wider definition of diversity than the tired racial themes, including diversity of thoughts and beliefs. That would be a positive direction, considering the negative fallout from liberal mandates at many U.S. universities.

The University had made great strides over the past two decades before getting embroiled in a series of controversies. Some of them the result  of the previous administration’s actions, others stemming from political agendas, others from liberal and conservative differences, and still others from state rivalries. UofL has survived, however, largely because the school means so much to so many people throughout the community and state, and is ready to start moving forward again.

We wish Neeli Bendapudi well, looking forward to some fresh new approaches, using creative and innovative ideas to help the University of Louisville not only survive but become an even more positive influence in our lives.