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.

Tom and Mark Jurich’s gifting goes beyond their donations

Tom and Mark Jurich were enormously successful in getting their fellow Louisvillians to share their collective vision for UofL athletics, attracting tens of millions of dollars for new and improved facilities, enabling the school’s team to compete at the highest levels and in state of the art facilities.

Mark Jurich announces the addition of Thornton’s as the major donor to the Academic Center for Excellence. He also was instrumental in getting Makers Mark as a early sponsor of the project. (CardGame photo).

But how much did Tom and Mark personally contribute out of their own money to the school? We now know, thanks to an open records request to the University of Louisville. First, however, a brief reminder of what they accomplished for the University.

Tom, who was fired in October, will be remembered as the athletic administrator who guided the University of Louisville out of the wilderness of college athletics and the makeshift conferences to a seat at the big table and membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Over nearly two decades, Jurich transformed Belknap Campus with new, expanded or greatly enhanced facilities in every sport, including basketball, football, baseball, soccer, track and field, softball and lacrosse.  UofL is competing seventh season in the KFC Yum! Center and nearing completion of a third expansion of Cardinal Stadium.

His son Mark Jurich, who was fired earlier this month, was a All-America baseball player at UofL. He joined the Athletic Department as an intern in 2004, advancing to senior associate athletic director for development and overseeing the Cardinal Athletic Fund. It was easy to see Mark being offered an athletic director position at a major school or succeeding his dad at UofL.

The younger Jurich oversaw numerous major fundraising efforts, including Lynn Stadium for soccer, the expansions of Cardinal Stadium and Jim Patterson Stadium, as well as the Thornton’s Academic Center of Excellence.

Now about those individual financial contributions:

According to the Open Records response, Tom officially contributed a total of $5,040 to the University during his time at the University. The total included $3,940 for athletics and a one-time gift of $1,000 to the UofL Foundation.

Tom’s contribution total to athletics included a $1,250 check in 2005 for the expansion of Jim Patterson Stadium, a $1,360 donation in 2010 for women’s field hockey, two checks for $500 and checks for $250 and $80 for the women’s golf team. He also wrote a check for $100 for a dance marathon benefiting UofL Medical School research.

Mark officially contributed a total of $5,500 to athletic department projects starting in 2009. Those contributions include $2,000 for Cardinal Stadium expansion, $1,500 for Jim Patterson Stadium expansion, and $1,900 for women’s field hockey.

Whether those contribution totals are commensurate with the money they were making from the school or soliciting for UofL is for someone else to decide. Some would argue that individuals are not expected to make financial contributions to their employers. Others would counter that they should have been giving more when they were so frequently asking for money from the community. 

Difficult to argue against either of those positions. What no one can seriously question, however, is how much better the University of Louisville is today because of their work and overall contribution to UofL athletics.

Enormous and far-ranging, forever raising the bar for those who will follow Tom and Mark Jurich at UofL.

Tom Jurich should be there for first game in expanded PCJS

Tom Jurich watches as his son, Mark, announces the Thornton’s sponsorship of the Academic Center in 2013 (Charlie Springer photos).

The massive edifice of the north end zone expansion at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is impressive. Even more so under the lights during a recent home game. A striking preview into the future of University of Louisville football.

When viewing the concrete and steel framework, it’s impossible not to think about Tom Jurich’s impact on the University.  Making UofL athletics nationally competitive in almost every sport, consistently among the top 20 in basketball, baseball, soccer and football.

One has to regret that Tom, who had the vision and the optimism to tackle the project, will probably not be on hand for the official opening on the stadium, which is scheduled Sept. 9, 2018.

Of all the projects TJ has undertaken, this may have been the one he wanted the most. The expansion will be a stunning addition to the stadium,  with the addition of 10,000 seats, including 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites.

One is optimistic that Tom’s son, Mark Jurich, will be an integral part of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and for the opening home game. Tom had put him in charge of the project, fundraising and all, and he appears to be right on target in terms of fundraising and construction.

What would make the event even more special would be for Tom Jurich there as well. Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra has said Tom is a good friend and he greatly admires what he accomplished at UofL. Tyra should do everything he can do to make that happen.

Crown jewel for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium already stunning

The 10,000-seat expansion to Cardinal Stadium is  on schedule and under budget, and will be ready for the season opener in 2018 (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Still hard to believe for this long time University of Louisville football fan who dared to dream of UofL someday having its own facility while having his view partially obscured by a steel post at the fairgrounds.

But here we are again, back at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for an update on still another expansion. This one a luxurious state-of-the-art, 10,000-seat addition, which will complete the oval. Raising capacity to 65,000 seats, along with growing expectations for the UofL football program.

Mark Jurich has been responsible for raising funds and overseeing the stadium expansion (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The construction towers over the north end zone, confirming that the latest addition will be the crown jewel, a striking tribute to college football in Louisville. “The magnitude of it is stunning,” said Tom Jurich, standing in front of the massive combination of wood, concrete and steel framework on Thursday.

The Vice President of Athletics confirmed that the project is on time and under budget and will be complete in time for the home opener in 2018.”I don’t think any college in the country can compete with this as far as the uniqueness of it,” he said.

It’s no secret that Tom has delegated most of the responsibility, including the fundraising and construction, of the stadium expansion to his son Mark Jurich, senior associate athletic director.

The younger Jurich said he is excited for UofL fans who will occupy the end zone expansion. “Our fans are going to be right on top, giving our players an atmosphere unlike anything they’ve experienced before,” he said.

“I’m excited to know they participated in this being built, buying seats, buying tickets to see this,” he said. “It is just the next step the football program and the university are taking together.”

These premium seats will have access to two premier gathering areas; the Pepsi Club, which will provide viewing access to the field, and another premium club, which will be similar to AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

All of the concrete work is expected to be complete by this year’s home opener against Clemson on Saturday, Sept. 16th.  Serving notice to the Tigers and the rest of the college football world that the UofL football program intends to be a major player, now and in the future.

 

 

 

$8 million kickstart for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion

 

The Pepsi Club will provide still another great fan gathering place.
The Pepsi Club will provide still another great fan gathering place.

Many more details were made available on the $55 million expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium during a press conference on Thursday. The latest project in the University of Louisville’s commitment to having the best facilities in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Pepsi is in for $5 million. Planet Fitness for $3 million. The fundraising campaign is in high gear now, with Tom Jurich eager to get to the groundbreaking as soon as possible.  With $8 million already in the proverbial bank and with other donors already reviewing their budgets, the campaign is off to a fast start.

Mark Jurich is managing the fundraising campaign.
Mark Jurich is managing the fundraising campaign.

Mark Jurich, son of Tom and senior associate athletic director, said the project has received an enthusiastic response from local corporations. He described the end zone addition as Crunch Zone 2.0, saying it would significantly enhance the fan experience at the stadium. “Support for the concept has been overwhelming in the community,” said Mark.

The 10,000-seat expansion will include 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes, and 12 exclusive field level suites. They will provide access to the exclusive Pepsi Club gathering area, similar to the existing B&W and PNC clubs on the east and west sides of the stadium.  It also will include a walkway connecting both sides of the stadium, making it accessible to all UofL fans.

The Howard Schnellenberger complex will be expanded as well, with an additional 40,000 square feet that will double the weight and training facilities. New meeting rooms and recreational areas, including a movie theater, will be available to the football players.

“As important as this project is to our department, we want to get it done as soon as we can,” said Mark.

Tom indicated that construction would take at least two years to compete and would not cause any disruption with home football games.  Although he would like to have it done in time for the 2018 season, he has little doubt that will be done for the Notre Dame game that kicks off the 2019 home schedule.