Great news that ESPN has selected the University of Louisville vs. Florida State football game on Saturday as the location for the enormously popular Game Day show. A milestone with significant recognition for the UofL football program.
UofL supporters, however, should hope that the current Board of Trustees doesn’t do anything to further exacerbate the friction that exists between different University factions. The potential for that to happen is very real.
The day before the game, the Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet with its counterpart from the UofL Foundation. The University board wants to conduct a forensic audit on the Foundation’s books and to fire Jim Ramsey from his Foundation post.
UofL Chairman Larry Benz last week described the Foundation, the University’s largest donor, as an “eyesore to the community,” citing a “culture of secrecy and lack of transparency” at the Foundation.
Benz also reflects the view of some Louisville real estate developers who have expressed competitive concerns about the Foundation’s development efforts, intended to offset the State cuts to the University’s budget.
“The Foundation at some point forgot its mission and instead got caught up in the allure of real estate to the detriment of the endowment and the university,” Benz said.
Not a coincidence that local developer and trustee Craig Greenberg, who has been a vocal critic of former President Jim Ramsey, was standing directly in back of Benz at the press briefing. Greenberg is a business partner to Steve Wilson, a developer and former trustee, who has also been critical, suggesting that the Foundation be folded into the University.
Exactly what Benz wants to accomplish at the Friday meeting is uncertain. What is obvious, however, is that emotions are running high on both sides, the University board and the Foundation.
“Our foundation has multiple subsidiaries, holding companies and single-purpose entities that make absolutely no sense,” Benz said. “So, forensic accounting expertise is needed to navigate this complex weave that the foundation has created over the last several years.”
Bob Hughes, who chairs the Foundation and is a University board member, hopes a lawsuit can be avoided. “I think reasonable people sitting around a table can come up with reasonable answers without the benefit of a lawsuit,” he said.
That appears to be a long shot, with some members of the University board apparently focused on just sending Ramsey packing, without any additional recognition, financial or otherwise, for his tenure at the University of Louisville.
Update: The scheduled meeting between the UofL and ULF boards has been cancelled.