Chief executive Jim Ramsey at the University of Louisville is out with a Final Four message, cheering on the UofL basketball team in the Final Four against Kentucky.
Believe it or not, the schools have decent relationships in numerous academic ventures, actually working together in more than 100 partnerships, including a joint effort in nanotechnology, biology and engineering research.
Always the diplomat, Jim Ramsey, fully aware that cooperation goes only so far.
Mitch McConnell, perhaps the most powerful University of Louisville basketball fan, introduced a resolution in the United States Senate Wednesday, extolling the NCAA basketball matchup with U of L and Kentucky in the Final Four.
McConnell is a big Louisville football fan, too, never missing a home game, often attending games on the road. He also has gotten involved in conference realignment and expansion, advocating UofL’s inclusion in the Big 12 Conference.
The Senator turned down an opportunity to have the UK School of Agriculture named after him a few years ago. But one of the most prestigious facets of UofL, the McConnell Center for Leadership Studies, bears his name, attracting influential world leaders on a regular basis.
Here’s his public statement:
“Never have these two teams faced each other in the Final Four with the stakes so high. If the excitement and frenzy and turbulence that’s been stirred up in Kentucky this week could be harnessed we could solve our energy crisis. Basketball fans from Kentucky have been waiting their whole lives for this game.
“So my friends in North Carolina can hear it, U of L and UK have the best rivalry in all of college basketball and the commonwealth of Kentucky is the best college basketball state in the nation.”
But when they turned off the microphone, we know that Senator McConnell was probably pleading:
Some unofficial reports from Atlanta indicate that the University of Kentucky may have used its position to prevent the University of Louisville from being considered as a possible member of the Southeastern Conference.
If this is true, is anyone surprised that UK would block another institution in the commonwealth from joining the SEC? It’s the kind of backward thinking that has impeded education in Kentucky for decades. The inclusion of U of L, having two universities in the SEC, would have been a major step forward in terms of perception of the state — as well as a much-needed economic boost in a rotten economy.
Current SEC members apparently have the ability to blackball members from their own states, blocking their entry into the conference. That’s apparently the reason Florida State and Clemson never gained traction, getting vetoed by the universities of Florida and South Carolina. In the world of competitive sports, it would have made more sense to have excluded them from voting for or against fellow state insitututions.
Meanwhile, the University of Missouri has been extended an invitation to join the SEC, there being no opposition.
No surprise, if this is true. UK has once again failed to deliver for the state. We would have been shocked if the school had taken any action that benefited the University of Louisville. Conference expansion provided a unique opportunity for UK to rise above its petty, selfish mindset and they failed to take advantage.
Those behind-the-scenes dealings in college athletics have a habit of coming back to bite schools in the butt.
We keep hearing that everybody does it, that cheating is rampant in college athletics, standard operating procedure for many. Some schools are better at it than most, thumbling their noses at the NCAA, suggesting that colleges create their own governing operatus.
John Calipari at Kentucky, not surprisingly, is an advocate of a new system. That may be just more bluster from a recurring source, or it could be inevitable. But for now, the NCAA is in charge.
The University of Miami is about to go down, the result of a cascade of revelations from Nevin Shapiro, a former booster who says he lavished gifts and benefits to recruits and bonuses for on-field play.
University of Louisville football fans are on edge because Clint Hurtt, current recruiting coordinator at U of L, was the lead recruiter at Miami at the time and an alleged recipient of the booster’s generosity. This is scary stuff because of what it suggests.
Hurtt has had unprecedented success at U of L in recruiting more than a dozen high caliber recruits from South Florida, including 10 from Miami.
Is he the most effective football recruiter in U of L history because of his position on a coaching staff headed by Charlie Strong? Or are other factors involved?
Not surprisingly, we choose to believe Clint Hurtt has been so successful because of the force of his personality, his many connections with coaches and players in the Miami area, his eye for assessing talent, his confidence and persistence, and his ability to sell the program.
Nothing we’ve seen or heard suggests anything otherwise, and we do follow this program closely. Is it too good to be true? Only time will tell.
U of L’s football following has grown significantly over the last decade. We may be naive but we’re pretty sure that following doesn’t include any Nevin Shapiros.