Life in the University of Louisville athletic department is good these days, challenging and rewarding. Not so at some schools.
Gary Friedman, a former senior associate athletic director at UofL, resigned suddenly Monday from his position as Athletic Director at Illinois State University. He was in the second year of a five-year contract.
Friedman earned the post in May 2011, promising to be “very aggressive and cutting edge.” His administration had begun a $25 million expansion of the school’s 50-year-old football stadium.
Oddly, his resignation coincided with the retirement of Al Bowman as Illinois State President. One of Bowman’s final acts was to appoint Larry Lyons as acting athletic director. A 26-year employee of ISU, Lyons was interim AD when Friedman was hired.
Friedman provided little explanation for his decision in a news release, saying only that “it simply was not the right fit.” He will be paid a year’s salary, plus expenses.
Tom Jurich says when you’re on top, there’s always someone wanting to knock you down. With the NCAA basketball champs backing him up on stage, Jurich urges UofL athletes to stay humble and hungry.
Grabbed this video of Jurich speaking to University of Louisville athletes during the recent All-Sports Banquet off of one Nick Stover’s sites. Stover is the social media director for athletics at UofL.
Julie Hermann, his assistant for the past 15 years, was selected Wednesday as the new Athletic Director at Rutgers University, the person to lead the university through a transition period in the American Athletic Conference next year and into the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
Hermann, 49, has served as the Cardinals’ senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator. She has worked in the Louisville athletic department since 1998. A former volleyball coach at Tennessee and player at Nebraska, she oversaw 20 of UofL’s 23 sports, excluding basketball, football and baseball. Hermann recently served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletics Administrators.
She was reportedly selected during an emergency voting session of the Rutgers board of governors after members of the search committee deadlocked on a 3-3 vote between her and Sean Frazier, the deputy AD at Wisconsin.
While she has been a highly visible presence around UofL sports, Hermann has largely been a silent force, at least in public, content to let her co-workers take credit for accomplishments in the women’s program, rarely interacting with the media.
However, Howie Lindsey, whose office at the Louisville Sports Report is near the campus, has seen her in action behind the scenes:
“She is a hot-headed, aggressive, tenacious competitor,” said Lindsey, in a recent Rivals post. “She wants every sport competing for a conference title all the time. Fair warning: Coaches that aren’t on their game will be hounded by her. She is so incredibly competitive it can be tough to work around when things aren’t going the way she wants them to, i.e. winning.
“She understands marketing, licensing, working a fan base and building an athletic department. She understands what makes a great coach and she understands the right fit.”
“This is not a PC hire. Julie is not just a diversity hire. This is a great hire. She is tough, focused and very well connected.
On a day when the attention of basketball fans across the nation was focused on the college decision of a high school player from Huntington, West Virginia, some reminders:
The University of Louisville remains the national champion in college basketball. Being the national champion is what all the fuss is about, whether it be in Hazard, Ky. or Topeka, Kan.
UofL will return all but two players from the team that went 35-5 this past season, seasoned players accompanied by young and talented shooters.
The same coach who led his team to the summit, Rick Pitino, will be at the helm. With the same philosophy, the same game plan, going with players who believe in his system. A successful coach more in love with the game of college basketball than ever.
Players who have been there, tasted success, wanting to be here for a while, knowing what it takes to win a championship, meshing their team’s aspirations with their own, putting Louisville first. No shortcuts, no tipping the scales, no Kelly temps or hired guns, no looking past the present.
Because of its success, Louisville will be tested early and often next season, making the team stronger as the season progresses. No one expects it to be easy, competing for two national championships in a row.
As Gorgui Dieng would remind his former teammates, nothing good ever comes easy. This group of players thrives on demanding goals.
Finally, a reason to watch the Big Ten Network on cable.
The University of Louisville at Ohio State baseball game will be telecast live on BTN Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The game is the last non-conference challenge of the regular season for UofL.
Ohio State has a 33-10 won-l0st record and is second behind Indiana in the conference standings. UofL is 42-10 and one game out of first place in the Big East, preparing for a three-game series against league-leading Pittsburgh this weekend.
Could the glory road still be continuing at a university that won a national championship in basketball, a BCS bowl in football, and was accepted into a Big Five Conference during the past seven months?
Dan McDonnell, who just won his 300th victory in seven seasons, has his team humming right now, having won 12 consecutive games. His team is one game out of first place in the Big East Conference as the regular season enters its final week. The Cards are 42-10
Guess which team is coming to Louisville this weekend. None other than league-leading Pittsburgh, providing an opportunity for McDonnell to win his fourth conference championship. They will play at 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at Noon on Saturday. Louisville must win all three games to claim the Big East title outright.
A conference championship and success in the Big Tournament could bring another Regional to Louisville, maybe even another Super Regional. What we’ve learned in recent months is to maintain high expectations.
UofL is led in hitting by Ty Young with a .374 batting average, and has six players batting .325 or better. Chad Green and Jeff Thompson lead the pitching staff with 8-2 and 9-1 records, respectively.
Winning is nothing new to McDonnell. In his 24 seasons in NCAA baseball as a player and coach, his teams have averaged 38 wins per season and have advanced to an NCAA Regional in 15 of those seasons, including 12 of the last 15.
Julie Hermann’s bid to become the new athletic director at Rutgers University was significantly enhanced Sunday when Fresno State AD Thomas Boeh withdrew his name from consideration, according to CentralJersey.com.
Hermann and Sean Frazier, deputy AD at Wisconsin, are expected to meet with Rutgers officials Monday and Tuesday before a recommendation is made to the Rutgers Board of Governors on Wednesday, when an announcement is expected.
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The UofL women’s softball team will host an NCAA Regional this week, opening against Indiana-Purdue at Ft. Wayne (IPFW) Friday at 7:30 p.m. The field also includes UCLA and Alabama-Birmingham who will square off in the opener at 5 p.m. at Dan Ulmer Stadium.
Some 2,700 students received degrees from the University of Louisville Saturday, and the “L signs and C-A-R-D-S cheers were in abundance at the KFC Yum! Center.
Peyton Siva is wasting no time, going down on one knee, proposing to Patience McCroskey, his college heart throb the day after commencement ceremonies.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’ll be among those first in line when the first Makers Mark bottles honoring Rick Pitino are released. His will be displayed right beside the Charlie Strong edition issued last year. The company is to be lauded for its commitment to excellence at the University of Louisville, having pledged $500,000 toward construction of an $8 million academic center for athletes.
Makers Mark always does things in a quality way, even if somewhat predictable.
What I’ve been keeping an eye out for is a decorative decanter similar to those released by Old Commonwealth when UofL basketball won its first and second national championships in 1980 and 1986, respectively.
The first one was a white decanter including the flying Cardinal logo, along with a listing of all the scores during the regular season on one side, the NCAA games on the opposite site, and a photo of the Grawmeyer Administration Building on the back. The second one actually had the flying Cardinal protruding from the front of a red and black No. 1. I have admired those pieces for 33 and 27 years, hoping to add to the collection.
Those bottles were distributed by a company called Old Commonwealth and contained 80 proof Kentucky bourbon for the UofL Alumni Association and the now-defunct University of Louisville Associates. Rodney Williams probably spearheaded the effort for the alumni group but he passed away about 10 years ago.
The bourbon that was in the bottles is also gone, and I don’t remember consuming either one of them. A Google search for Old Commonwealth yielded only a reference to a collection of decanters so that company has probably gone out of business. Possibly a great opportunity for another local company to come up with something equally distinctive. Definitely a profit opportunity.
Pitino has earned his bottle but I really would relish having one that honors the team and UofL’s third NCAA basketball championship.