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DeVonte Fields poised for second chance at Louisville

July 23, 2015 0 Comments

Good news on the defensive front for University of Louisville, with reports that DeVonte Fields has met academic requirements, will report to campus Aug. 4, and can play during the 2015 season.

DeVonte Fields

DeVonte Fields

Fields was named the Big 12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press as a freshman in 2012 after leading TCU with 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Fields played just three games in 2013 because of injuries, and spent the 2014 season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

Not so good: Fields was dismissed from TCU after being charged with domestic abuse charges, allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face, a Class A misdemeanor. The case was dismissed this year, and Fields agreed to take four anger management classes. Prior to the beginning of TCU’s 2013 season, Fields was suspended for the first two games of the season for a violation of team rules.

In January 2014, Fields reported that he was attacked and robbed by three individuals at an off-campus residence. He reportedly grabbed the arm of one of the gun-wielding assailants and five shots were fired. Fields escaped without major injury, and no charges were filed.

Up to now, trouble has seemed to follow DeVonte Fields around. If he’s ready to put the past behind him, Fields is the perfect candidate for some tough love from Bobby Petrino.

With so much focus on other issues, don’t be surprised if Fields is in need of a lot of conditioning before he returns to action.

Changing vistas at the University of Louisville

July 22, 2015 0 Comments

When University of Louisville students return for the 2015-16 school year, some of them aren’t going to recognize some of the changes that have occurred over the summer. The observer was on campus Wednesday checking out some of the upgrades.

Research-Park

An entirely new view of the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus from the recently-completed flyover drive for the Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park. Motorists enter the road from Third Street and Iowa Avenue, with an exit to parking at the J. B. Speed School, and on to Eastern Parkway. The road has yet to be named. Any suggestions?

Floyd-Street

Floyd Street remains an obstacle course with traffic cones and construction equipment as beautification efforts continue, with a goal of completion by the time students return the week of August 24th. Whether the underground utility work will be done by then is anybody’s guess.

New EntranceAnother new entrance at Floyd and Warnock streets, providing a greatly enhanced entryway onto one of the busiest intersections on campus. That’s the Ralph Wright Natatorium in the background. A new visitors center will be located on the opposite side of Floyd Street, across from the campus McDonald’s.Silo SiteThis view is significant for what’s not there. That would be the 22 silos which towered over the campus for more than 70 years. Also missing is the Oak tree that was adjacent to the old administrative offices. The site will serve as a temporary parking location for University of Louisville football, at least through the 2015 season.

J. D. Nichols enlightens some UofL Trustees

July 20, 2015 3 Comments

If you’re a University of Louisville fan, it may be about time to get off the sideline on this issue. It’s about much more than Jim Ramsey’s paycheck.

J. D. Nichols, chairman of NTS Corp., a Louisville-based real estate development firm, has the answer for the critics of the compensation package for Ramsey as  UofL President. He addresses the issue in a letter to the Courier-Journal, which has yet to apear in print.

J. D. Nichols

J. D. Nichols

A couple of members of the 20-member UofL Board of Trusteees apparently have a problem with the UofL Foundation, which has numerous breakthroughs possible for the University. The facts suggest possible conflicts of interest.

They want the Foundation fall under the board’s oversight, making it susceptible to gubernatorial political appointments, weakening UofL’s ability to invest in the future.

Fortunately, the University has some powerful and strongly committed allies. Here’s J. D. Nichols’ letter:

“To the Editor:”

“Something the critics have failed to acknowledge is that there is absolutely no taxpayer money in the University of Louisville Foundation. It has been exclusively funded by generous gifts from alumni and many others who recognize the wonderful accomplishments of the previous and current presidents.

“Recent comments from misinformed University of Louisville Trustees calling for the Foundation to fall under the auspices of their Board, are totally contrary to the intended role of the Foundation.

“The intent was to provide a separate source of funding not subject to state finances or political influence for various University projects. Additionally, it was intended that some of the funds be used to supplement salaries and performance bonuses for employees and educators, when state mandated guidelines were insufficient to attract and retain the appropriate personnel. Its mission also included funding any unforeseen needs that the state couldn’t or wouldn’t fund. It was not intended that the funds be co-mingled with other state funds and treated as if it was the taxpayers’ money. Since the entire Board of Trustees is appointed by the governor, allowing the Board to control the Foundation would instantly politicize it and be counter to the original mandate of the Foundation.

“I recently made a donation to the University of Louisville Foundation with the stipulation that the funds be spent at President Ramsey’s discretion – not at the discretion of the Board of Trustees. I am not criticizing the Board of Trustees. They have many responsibilities and do an excellent job fulfilling their obligations, but controlling how my donation is appropriated is not one of them.

“The recent criticism of bonuses awarded to President Ramsey and others that were funded by “private funds” from the Foundation is absolutely absurd. In my opinion, the only people who have a right to question how the funds are utilized are those of us who funded the Foundation.

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Jawon Pass picks the Louisville hat

July 16, 2015 4 Comments

At the big announcement Thursday, Jawon Pass kept shuffling the hats on the table in front of him, hats from Louisville, Alabama and Auburn. He seemed to give the UofL hat a little extra care, placing it in the middle.

Over the past few months, Pass had received offers from 20 schools, arriving at his final three after eliminating such programs as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, LSU, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.Screenshot 2015-07-16 16.10.12

The pressure from top programs was relentless. Pass had just visited Alabama the day before his announcement, Auburn during the past week. In the end, Alabama and Auburn would not make the cut.

When time came to make his decision, UofL fans held their breath as Pass slowly declared,

“For the next three or four years, I will be attending … the … University … of … Louisville.”

Carefully and lovingly placing the red hat with the Cardinal logo on his head to stay, confident in his decision.

There it was, Bobby Petrino, along with assistants Garrick McGee and L. D. Scott, had won one of the school’s biggest recruiting battles ever, over two of college football’s most respected programs. A five-star quarterback who checks in at an impressive 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds with 4.5 speed is on his way to Louisville.

Pass said he chose UofL for a number of reasons, including his respect for the UofL coaching staff, which he believes will prepare him for the next level. It didn’t hurt UofL that his brother, Khane Pass, had committed to UofL in August last year and will be a freshman safety of the roster this season.

Major college football recruiting, being what it is, fans can expect some programs to continue to recruit Jawon Pass. But they will probably be wasting their time. The commitment seems to be pretty solid in favor of Louisville. He loves that UofL hat.

“It’s a good fit for me,” Pass said. “I’ve got a good relationship with the coaches and that’s just where my heart was at.”

Courier-Journal ignores reality on Jim Ramsey’s compensation

July 14, 2015 8 Comments

Jim Ramsey

Would someone please explain why the Courier-Journal is devoting so much time and space to Jim Ramsey’s compensation package? If Ramsey had accomplished the equivalent of what he has done at the University of Louisville in the private sector, his remuneration would be at least five times as much as he is currently paid.

The newspaper’s management is apparently unable to grasp the enormity of what Ramsey has accomplished. Since he assumed the post in 2002, he has transformed UofL from a sleepy commuter school into a national player on many fronts. The University today enjoys a $1 billion endowment that was not conceivable a decade ago.

Either that or some highly-placed individual at the CJ is resentful of the tremendous strides being made at UofL. They do a disservice to the community by refusing to acknowledge that UofL was not content with the status quo. That UofL chose to separate itself from the pack of urban universities by applying creative and innovative approaches to growing the University of Louisville brand.

They’re missing out on the most relevant story of all, a then-and-now perspective on the progress on Belknap Campus, the Health Science Campus and Shelby Campus. They could easily devote an entire section on UofL, solicit advertising, and the newspaper could actually make some money for a change.

The CJ reports inevitably include so-called studies of compensation rates at other universities, as if UofL should impose limits on itself in achieving its aspirations by being average. This is inconsistent with the Post Secondary Educational Improvement Act, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1997, in which UofL was given the mandate of becoming a preeminent metropolitan research university.

The University of Louisville, under Ramsey, is making inroads toward that goal despite annual cuts in state education funding, thanks to the staff’s impressive fundraising and development efforts and the assistance of the UofL Foundation. Giving is at an all-time high, helping to offset the funding cuts. Meanwhile, Ramsey has turned down more than $1 million in compensation increases since 2012.

One suspects there are individuals at the Courier-Journal who do not have the best interests of the University in mind. There are some Gubernatorial appointments to the UofL board who have competing interests as well.

Thankfully, however, those individuals comprise a small minority on the board, outnumbered by those board members who recognize that what Ramsey has achieved for UofL is unprecedented. They will continue to see through the distractions created by the malcontents with conflicts of interest and the local newspaper with a distorted sense of journalism.

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