Adversity takes back seat to Jurich at University of Louisville

When he’s announcing a contract extension for one of his coaches, Tom Jurich often says he likes to judge people on how they handle adversity. The University of Louisville athletic director has been quite adept at negotiating through tough times himself lately.

At the Bobby Petrino press conference,  Jurich said he was most impressed with how Petrino handled himself when his team was 0-3 at the beginning of the 2015 season.

Tom Jurich and Matt Thornton at ribbon cutting for the Thornton's Academic Center for Excellence.
Tom Jurich and Matt Thornton at ribbon cutting for the Thornton’s Academic Center for Excellence.

“We were winless and the ship could have gone in a much different direction,” said Jurich. “Bobby kept everybody together, kept the kids’ heads raised up high, with great attitudes, and we finished very strong, beating Texas A&M in that bowl game. I really look to evaluate people when the chips are down.”

Like when there seems to be a dark cloud hovering over Belknap Campus for a while now. A time that creates uncertainty on many fronts, that would not surprisingly pose a severe test of loyalty from an individual as highly respected as Tom Jurich nationally.

The local newspaper, knowing UofL is popular with its readers, has become predictable lately, posting any and all bad news about UofL on the front page.  Issues like a dysfunctional board of trustees. the dumping of one board for another, employee thefts and lawsuits, the NCAA investigation of the basketball program, the state audit of the UofL Foundation, a President who defied the media and was forced to resign, and, most recently, the announcement of IRS investigations.

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Louisville’s academic center for athletes raises the bar

Marvin Mitchell visited numerous academic centers across the nation in recent years, anticipating the day when the new Thornton’s Center for Academic Excellence would open at the University of Louisville.

Marvin Mitchell gives Center an A-plus.
Marvin Mitchell gives Center an A-plus.

Mitchell, senior associate athletic director for student services and diversity, was strongly encouraged by his boss Tom Jurich to return with the best ideas, add them to his own and incorporate them into the plan.

The culmination of his efforts arrived Wednesday and Mitchell is confident that he will be overseeing the best-equipped athletic academic center in the country. “This is a huge deal, for these kids to have this kind of space, you have no idea,” he said. “We have worked hard to make this one of the premier programs in the country for academic success.”

In addition to enhancing academics, Mitchell believes the new center will be a valuable recruiting tool. “We want parents who accompany recruits on their visits and after talking with our academic staff to say ‘we’re coming’ before they see the football facility or the basketball court. We want to seal the deal with academics.”

AC - AuditoriumNow in his 15th year at UofL, Mitchell has oversight of academic services, student services, continuing eligibility and student-athlete programming. Academic success for student-athletes has flourished, with the cumulative average of Louisville athletes exceeding 3.0 for 10 straight semesters.

The brightly-lit 43,000-square-foot facility contains numerous variations and combination of study and leisure space, including private study space and larger space for groups.

A massive artistic video wall greets visitors upon entry in the Republic Bank Atrium.  A 204-seat auditorium is equipped with a high definition 18.5 feet by 10.5 feet screen. A cafeteria will make it easy for the athletes to adhere to training table requirements. An Adidas lounge is provided for breaks between tutoring and studies.AC - Cafeteria 2

“It may be the finest facility that we’ve built and certainly one of the most important projects we’ve taken on during my time at Louisville,” said Jurich.

Here’s a video tour hosted by Kyle Bolin:

Cardinal Caravan gives way to Summer Festival

Cardinal Caravan has apparently gone the way of the Cardinals Summer Festival. Nobody will be able to tell the difference.

University of Louisville coaches, student-athletes, spirit groups and athletic staff members will interact with UofL fans Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at Captain’s Quarters Riverside Grille.

Football schedule posters and fall sports schedule cards will be provided. 

The free event will include raffle prizes, playground inflatables for children, photo opportunities, additional games, and a question and answer session featuring multiple UofL head coaches.   

Jim Ramsey still wants to help University of Louisville achieve research mission

Submitting his resignation as President of the University of Louisville had to be the hardest thing Jim Ramsey has ever done, considering the phenomenal growth that occurred at UofL during his 14 years at the helm.

The Louisville native told this observer that he wants to continue to work with individuals and community organizations which share his aspirations for the University, wanting very much to see UofL’s trajectory continue spiraling upwards.

Jim Ramsey sharpens focus on development at UofL Foundation.
Jim Ramsey sharpens focus on development at UofL Foundation.

He’s confident UofL is in good hands with Neville Pinto filling the vacuum as Acting President. “Dr. Pinto is a strong, proven academic leader, and did an exceptional job as the Dean of Speed School and as the Acting Provost,” he said.

Ramsey said he will miss the day-to-day interaction with UofL students, staff and faculty, but wants to continue supporting the University in meaningful ways. He hopes that by continuing as President of the University of Louisville Foundation, he can contribute to UofL achieving its mission as a premier metropolitan research university.

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Crawford Gym a fading memory, giving way to academic facility

Bill Olson, former Athletic Director and Assistant Coach, reunites with Denny Crum.
Bill Olson, former Athletic Director and Assistant Coach, reunites with Denny Crum.

Large segments of the floor have already been removed, a sign near the entrance encourages fans to go an online auction, and Crawford Gym is host to a going-away party.

Crawford AuctionDarrell Griffith is there, along with dozens of former University of Louisville basketball players. Among them Philip Bond, Jerry Eaves, Wiley Brown, Roger Burkman, Mike Grosso, Robbie Valentine, just to name a few. Manuel Forrest is there, too, cutting snippets of the nets down for teammates and fans.

Denny Crum, Bill Olson and Jerry Jones, among the former coaches on hand, Denny autographing small segments of the floor to raise money for the UofL scholarship fund in his name, sharing memories of the old days on the Jerry Eaves radio show.

Felton Spencer shares memories of his days in Crawford Gym.
Felton Spencer shares memories of his days in Crawford Gym.

Crum admitting at one point that he thought he might have made a mistake after seeing Crawford Gym for the first time. “What we lacked in facilities, however, we made up for in enthusiasm and a love for basketball,” he said. “The kids didn’t care if the gym was outdated or stinking hot, they just wanted to play basketball.”

Crawford Gym, which was constructed in 1964, became a reality after a gift of $467,000 was made from the estate of Matthew Crawford by his sister Kate Crawford and Jennie Hanks, with additional money from the city.

The facility included two regulation-size maple basketball courts, which were also used for volleyball, gymnastics and intramurals. It was lighted by 64 mercury-vapor lights. The roof was the first elliptical paraboloid in the midwest, a type of roof eliminating supporting posts. There was never any air conditioning.

Crawford Gym will be coming down later this month, making way for a much-needed multi-million-dollar instructional facility.