Accrediting group ignores dysfunction on University of Louisville board

Members of the current University of Louisville Board of Trustees didn’t need to show up for the board meeting scheduled for Thursday morning. Nor for any other meetings in the future for that matter.

The board meeting was cancelled, along with with the finance meeting, and the individuals serving as board members have effectively been removed. The second time in a year they have been relieved, this time for keeps.

Gov. Matt Bevin with Junior Bridgeman, who chaired the new board (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

With urging from Governor Matt Bevin, the Kentucky Legislature has passed legislation effectively abolishing the current board and the one that temporarily replaced it last year. The Governor really had no choice because the squabbling had continued and led to the school being placed on accreditation probation.

The current board was unable to conduct a search for a new President because of a settlement of lawsuit challenging the minority composition. Former Governor Steve Beshear had ignored racial and political guidelines, making the board effectively illegal, creating major conflicts while also ousting former President Jim Ramsey.

State Representative Jerry Miller (R-Louisville), who chaired a hearing on House Bill 12 on new procedures, believes the legislation will get UofL off probation as quickly as possible. In a communication to this constituents, Miller wrote, “the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has never questioned the power of legislatures to act in such matters. SB 12 does the following:

  • Addresses the probation status.
  • A newly established board will be transferred powers, ensuring the University will not go without a board of trustees.
  • The Council on Postsecondary Education’s Nominating Committee will be required to submit 30 nominations, from which Gov. Bevin must appoint 10.
  • Requires Senate confirmation of all appointments to the board, (SACS was surprised KY didn’t require this already), sets terms for members, specifies how to determine proportional minority representation on the boards and provides procedures for vacancies.”

Some faculty and student leaders had suggested that the Governor’s best course of action over time would have been to appoint seven Republican members, including two minority members.

Not an option since the terms of at least three of the more contentious members of the existing board did not expire until 2019 or later. Too many venom between board segments. Communications were strained and no significant action was possible. Similar circumstances over the past three years made the board dysfunctional.

These circumstances have been given short shrift by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), ignoring the rancor that existed, choosing to focus on Governor Bevin, accusing him of removing the board without due process. The reality was that the only options available to Bevin was to let a bad situation continue to fester or to take decisive action on behalf of the University.

By ignoring the reality of the situation and placing the institution on probation, SACS has clumsily embarrassed the University and damaged the school’s reputation.  Further, SACS has exposed itself as an association influenced by political ideology and political posturing.

A real concern is that SACS may have relied more heavily on media coverage in the Courier-Journal than independently investigating the situation or interviewing board members and other affected parties. The organization has ignored the negative impact of the actions of the previous Governor, Steve Beshear, who consistently violated guidelines on board appointments, willfully disrespecting the process and ensuring conflict.

SACS should be fair and accountable to the 22,000-plus students, faculty and staff at the University of Louisville, and the even larger number of alumni, and their families, respecting all that had gone into putting UofL on an unprecedented trajectory. The Governor and the Legislature have taken the appropriate steps on behalf of the University, and those actions should be recognized and respected.

Asia Durr erupts for 34 points in one half for Louisville women

An awestruck 8,586 fans witnessed an historic performance at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday — a keeper they will store in their treasure box of University of Louisville memories. 

They were there the night when Syracuse looked almost unbeatable in the first half, jumping out to an 11-2 starts, owning 12-point leads over Louisville in the second quarter. UofL considering itself lucky to trail by only seven points at the half.

Al Benningfield, who worked with the UofL stat crew for 46 years befoe , told Asia after the game it was the best performance he had seen in 50 years for a UofL player.

Things had not gone well for Asia Durr in the first half, looking apprehensive, tentative, afraid to shoot. And for good reason, missing all five of her field goal attempts. She would eke out two points during the first 20 minutes, making two free throws.

What happened in the second is the stuff of legend. Asia scoring 18 points in the third quarter with UofL outscoring Syracuse 29 to 4 to own a 20-point lead. She wasn’t done yet, tacking on an additional 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead Louisville to an epic 91-76 win over the visitors.

Yes,  34 points for Durr in that second half. She would wind up with a career high 36 points for the game, making 10 of 18 field goal attempts, including seven 3-pointers, and 9 of 12 free throw attempts.  

“The first half was tough,” she said afterwards. “I gained a lot of confidence in that second half. I’m not the type of player who if things don’t go well is going to shut down. I love this game too much. It’s how you bounce back.”

Nobody was happier than Coach Jeff Walz about that mesmerizing second half. “We didn’t start the game well,” he said. “Asia wasn’t really looking to score in the first half. It’s kind of hard to score if you don’t shoot. She looked scared.

“I told her at halftime she was wide open at times and she wasn’t looking to score. She’s a scorer. That’s what she has to do for us. The second half she finally started to attack. Credit her teammates for getting the ball to her.”

Memorable night, too, for Mariya Moore and Myisha Hines-Allen. Moore coming through with a triple-double, with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Hines-Allen contributing 18 points and six rebounds. Those two keeping UofL close in the first half, setting the stage for Durr’s milestone performance.

A significant win over a quality opponent, with Coach Jeff Walz describing Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes of Syracuse as “two of the best guards in the country.” They would wind up with 31 and 21 points, respectively.

The win improved UofL’s won-lost record to 13-2, getting the Cardinals off to a good start in ACC play. Next up is Duke at Durham, N.C. on Monday.

Durr’s confidence builder couldn’t have come at a better time.

Merry Christmas To All

Switching into full Christmas mode for the next couple of days, time to immerse ourselves totally into the holiday season. 

What a year it has been for the University of Louisville, experiencing the tremendous highs and lowly lows. Just when we thought nothing worse could happen, something did. But the lows are only temporary, with so many good people associated with the University.  

Loyal administrators and staff keeping the school moving forward in the face of unprecedented challenges, academicians and athletes performing at high levels, fans and supporters remaining faithful, continuing to support UofL without fail, propelling the University forward to new plateaus.

Much to be thankful for, knowing the challenges only make us stronger, the issues will be resolved and the university has so much more to achieve .

Thanks for being UofL fans, appreciate your support of Card Game as well. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

The hits keep coming but milestones never stop at University of Louisville

The University of Louisville is under attack on so many fronts that some of us are becoming hardened to the accusations, skeptical of the sources. Some unbelievable accusations have surfaced, and they never seem to go away. 

Any more bad news out there? Cough it up and clear the air. Only three more weeks before 2016 becomes history. What a crappy year in so many ways.

— Jim Ramsey, the former UofL President, accused of administrative irregularities in a state audit of the UofL Foundation. That would be the same Jim Ramsey who is credited for the unprecedented growth of the University over the past decade. 

— The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placing UofL’s accreditation on probation for a year for actions taken by Governor Bevin in attempting to replace the current members of the Board of Trustees. Why the organization would threaten the school’s accreditation for any reason other than academic reasons defies any logic. No surprise, however, given the ideology of members governing the Southern Association.

— Governor Bevin, ignoring the Southern Association’s action, indicating that he will attempt to change state law during the 2017 legislation session to justify his action. A dangerous precedent if he is successful, allowing future Governors to replace board members at will, possibly putting the University’s very existence at risk in a state where little love is lost on UofL.

Few people in America more noble or better positioned than sportswriters to address sins and shortcomings.

— The never-ending probe of the UofL basketball program following revelations that former player and assistant coach had been sponsoring stripper parties and sexual favors for players. Once a program is accused, the NCAA’s review process drags on forever, with no consistency in how cases are handled and punishments are administered.

— The latest embarrassment, the admission of a Wake Forest radio football analyst that he had provided game plan information to opposing teams, including UofL. Louisville, unfortunately, was where information was uncovered exposing the individual, exposing UofL to criticism from the talking heads and saintly sports columnists like Tim Sullivan.

The lowest of low points, being lectured by the scribes. Few people in America more noble or better positioned than sportswriters to address sins and shortcomings. Who’s to question their qualifications? A terrible profession when success is often defined by how many people hate you.

Quite a tumble from the glory years, particular from the Year of the Cardinal in 2013 when the University of Louisville could do no wrong. Distant memories for now.

The Lamar Jackson success story, the first UofL football player to ever win the Heisman Award, providing a brief reprieve from the torrent of bad news. But also serving as a reminder that many great things will continue to happen at UofL.

Overcoming hard times is part of being an advocate for the University of Louisville. Fans and supporters of UofL have had to weather more than their share of adversity over the decades.

They’ve grown accustomed to being targeted by neighboring fans, by a local newspaper that claims to be a state newspaper at the expense of the local school, and by the growing pains that occur when a school is ambitious. Predictably the University of Louisville always gets stronger and better, achieving unprecedented milestones while eyeing even more challenging goals.

Always been that way. It will never change. 

Some generous givers, a few not so much, on UofL Board of Trustees

Anyone who thought the drama was over with the University of Louisville board of trustees got a rude awakening from Governor Matt Bevin the other day. He is more adamant than ever that current board will be replaced.

“They will be gone soon enough,” the Governor told Terry Meiners on WHAS Radio. “The governance of that university deserves people that are focused on the university and not their own agendas.”

Voters handed full control of both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly to the Republican Party. He says he wants people “who aren’t doing this (serving on the UofL board) for anything other than the right reasons.”

One way of assessing the level of trustee commitment to the University is by examining their financial support. Because the motives of some members has been questioned, UofLCardGame submitted an open records request to the University for the lifetime contributions. 

While some might argue that making public the private donations of individuals to educational institutions should be out of bounds, we believe it is important to follow the money in this case.

There is a wide variance in trustee giving from top to bottom. Some members giving more to athletics than academics, and vice versa. Some giving millions of dollars, and a few notable members nowhere close to being overly generous, given their financial resources. 

Bruce Henderson captures top donor honors for the current UofL Board of Trustees.
Bruce Henderson captures top donor honors for the current UofL Board of Trustees.

Bruce Henderson, owner of Henderson Electric, is the leading contributor, having donated in excess of $1.4 million to UofL, the bulk of it, $1.3 million, for academics and another $126,550 for athletics.

Jonathan Blue, chairman of Blue Equity, comes in second, with total contributions of $1.398 million.  His contributions are weighted in favor of athletics, more than $1.36 million for sports, and $29.4 thousand for academics.

Bob Hughes, immediate past Chairman of the Board of Trustees and a Murray physician, is the third leading contributor, having given $1.37 million to academics, most of it derived from the contribution of his 7,700-square-foot house in Murray to UofL.

Current Trustee Chairman Larry Benz, who is chief executive of Confluent Health, has contributed $787 thousand to athletics and $26.6 thousand to academics, adding up to a grand total of $813,683 in lifetime gifts.

Brucie Moore, a board member who also chairs the UofL Foundation, has contributed $231,669, with most of it, $154.1 thousand, going to academics and $77,500 to athletics.

Near the bottom of the list of UofL contributors are some frequent critics of former UofL President Jim Ramsey who have also argued that the UofL Foundation should be placed under the auspices of the Board of Trustees.

Craig Greenberg near the bottom when it comes to financial gifts to UofL.
Craig Greenberg near the bottom when it comes to financial gifts to UofL.

Craig Greenberg, an attorney and chief executive of 21C hotels, had donated only $4,363 to the University through Oct. 4 of this year. Campbell, an advisor at Lazard Freres & Co., had given $2,760. Both contributed only to UofL academic programs.

“Their contributions to the school don’t match the noise they’ve made over the past couple of years,” said one board member.

Emily Bingham, who has sided with Greenberg and Campbell on numerous issues, has donated more than $79 thousand to UofL, all of it for academic purposes. 

Interestingly, Larry Hayes, former chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority and administrator under former Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, has donated a total of $197,360, including almost $180,000 for athletics.

Note: Numbers are current as of Oct. 4, 2016.