Vince Tyra weighs in on COVID-19 crisis

Vince Tyra encourages fans to support each other during the pandemic (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Dear Friends,

This last week has been a difficult time for us all. I wanted to reach out to you directly as we navigate this unprecedented time for our country as much as for Louisville Athletics, and truly thank you for your continued passion and support of the Louisville Cardinals.

As you know, due to the ever-evolving developments of COVID-19, the University of Louisville, in conjunction with the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA, has suspended all athletic related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice.

While this is an extremely tough time for the Louisville Athletics community, the health and safety of our student-athletes, fans, and staff is of the utmost importance.  Plans could be altered at any time as more information becomes available in this very fluid and unprecedented matter. We are committed to open and continued communication with you, our biggest supporters.

As we continue to gather information, one thing that we do know is that we cannot do this ourselves. Our student-athletes, coaches and leadership need your support now, more than ever. If you need anything at all, please feel free to reach out to your Cardinal Athletic Fund (CAF) representative directly or contact the main line at CAF@louisville.edu.

We are in this business because we are driven to see results. We are competitors at heart, but right now that’s impossible to do. Our focus right now needs to be on how we can console, motivate, and guide those around us – and to use this time to lay the critical groundwork for our next, best chapter. I am so proud of the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans that call themselves Louisville Cardinals.

Our program is no stranger to adversity and rising to the next challenge is part of the Cardinals’ DNA. We will get through this together, and I believe our best days are ahead of us. This is what drives us every day, and you are the embodiment of that spirit.

Until we meet again, wear your red with pride, communicate your passion for our program, and know we send the very best wishes for you and your family. Remember, in times of uncertainty, we rise as one.

                                                                                                                      Vince Tyra
                                                        University of Louisville Athletic Director

Old rivals Louisville, Dayton back on collision course

Does destiny dare to match the universities of Louisville and Dayton in another historic showdown on one of college basketball’s biggest stages in March?  The once bitter rivals last met with a championship on the line some 64 years ago.

Charlie Tyra, father of Louisville Athletic Director Vince Tyra, adorned the prestigious cover of the Street & Smith Basketball in 1957, following UofL’s NIT championship year.

A lot has happened since the 1955-56 season, with UofL becoming a nationally acclaimed program. The program won three national championships — in 1980, 1986 and 2013 and joined Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015. Meanwhile, Dayton has quietly labored in the mid-major Atlantic 10 Conference except for a 1967 loss to UCLA in the NCAA championship game.

Not to worry, Dayton is back stronger than ever.  According to this site, Dayton is among the serious contenders to win the NCAA championship. The Flyers are 28-2 overall and 17-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.  Their odds of winning it all are placed at +1200, behind only Baylor, Duke and Gonzaga. Louisville is below Dayton at odds of +1400.

The Flyers have won 19 straight games to occupy their highest poll position since finishing the 1955-56 campaign with a 25-4 record and a No. 3 ranking. They are currently ranked third in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls.

They are led by Obi Toppin, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, averaging 19.8 points per and 8.9 rebounds per game. They have three other starters averaging double figures as well.

Back to that 1955-56 season. Louisville, led by 6-foot-8 Charlie Tyra, and Dayton, with 7-foot-1 Bill Uhl, were both among the top 10 when they collided. They played three times, with UofL winning by two points on last second baskets during both regular season games.

They next clashed in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament, which at time was considered by many to be the premier basketball tourney. Louisville won 93-80, its biggest win ever, joining the ranks of the nation’s elite programs in the years that followed.

Louisville owns a 39-27 edge over Dayton in a series that dates back to 1948. However, the Cardinals lost the last two games to the Flyers in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. And Coach Rick Pitino never pursued a resumption of the series after those losses.

The diehards, or anyone remotely familiar with the series, will strongly disagree that the rivalry is only a distant memory.   The stakes will be high for both programs and intensity levels will be off the charts if they cross paths again in March.

Vince Tyra: Louisville football ready to win again

Thomas Jackson, a senior wide receiver, and Luke Massad, a senior long snapper, enjoyed the kickoff luncheon at a table with University of Louisville fans.

“It’s another day, it’s another season, and in the spirt of looking forward and not looking back at last year, this has been a traditional winning football program and it will remain a winning program.”

Vince Tyra enters the 2019 season with high expectations for the UofL football team under Scott Satterfield.

With that promise, Athletic Director Vince Tyra greeted a crowd of between 1,400 and 1,500 fans during the University of Louisville’s annual Kickoff Luncheon on Monday at the Downtown Marriott Inn. A crowd wanting to put last season in the past, eager to write some new chapters in UofL football.

“Winning in the classroom, winning in the community, and winning on the field are key attributes of this program and this athletic department,” he continued. “We have hungry players who are ready to go. They’re talented,  they’re ready to be competitive today. Right now. They are anxious to show you the real them. The players believe they are ready, and so do I.”

Not sure who Tyra was seeking to persuade the most, the coaches, the players, the fans or himself. But he certainly wanted everyone to know he is setting the bar high for Louisville football, even during a rebuilding year. A year after everybody gave up on each other in one of the most disappointing football seasons ever.

“The key to leadership is the transfer of beliefs and values to those you are leading, essential to the culture we have created in the athletic department and which Coach Scott Satterfield has created in our football program,” Tyra continued.

“The transferring of beliefs is contagious. We are seeing our players infect each other on a daily basis with a positive approach — otherwise known as attitude and effort. It has been a tremendous eight months getting to know Coach Satterfield, his family and a terrific staff he has assembled. I bought into his leadership and program attributes last December and I am going to be committed to working my butt off to make him successful.”

Tyra believes something special is happening with Louisville football, noting that season ticket sales are up by more than 2,000 seats and rising. “The fans play a key role,” he concluded. “We need to you create that home field advantage. The players won’t let us down, they are going to lift us up, and we’ll see you at Cardinal Stadium on Sept. 2.”

Losing is not an option for Vince Tyra.

 

Hey Vince, UofL Golf Course a great setting for Cardinal Caravans

Bring back the Cardinal Caravans.

The observer made it out to Simpsonville on Monday for the annual Press Box Classic at the University of Louisville Golf Club. A welcome respite from the dearth of UofL activities in which to become engaged over the past several weeks.

A reunion of sorts for many of the sportswriters, the bloggers, the broadcasters, the personalities gathering once again for a fun event. The decibel meter reaching peak levels, with the media types and occasional golfers enjoying the free golf, the pulled pork sandwiches, the door prizes and familiar faces.

Kenny Klein is there, of course, overseeing the 21st annual event, along with Athletic Director Vince Tyra, Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell and Volleyball Coach Dani Keely, and Women’s Athletic Director Christine Herring.

“We’re just here to have fun, have a good time and enjoy each other,” he says. “One of my favorite events every year, getting to know people we work with on a more casual basis in a great setting.”

And what a great setting it is.

The UofL Golf Club has undergone significant changes since being purchased by the University five years ago, investing more than $11 million into the golf program’s home course. Changes include numerous new water hazards, new tee sites and longer holes, and continued modernization of the clubhouse and dining facilities.

One thing that has been missing on the UofL calendar the last three years has been the Cardinal Caravan. These were great events, enabling fans, coaches, players, cheerleaders, Ladybirds and pep band members to mingle in an informal atmosphere.

The need for such an event is even greater considering all the changes that have occurred over the last three years on campus. Fans deserve opportunities to get to know UofL people better, the people they have remained faithful and supportive of during some very challenging times.

Having the event at the Simpsonsville venue would be a great way to show off one of the University’s most desirable facilities, a great promotion for the club, probably resulting in some new memberships and strengthening relationships between UofL and its many fans.

Bring back the Cardinal Caravans, Vince. There’s no better setting than the UofL Golf Club.

Report: Cardinal Stadium cabooses safe for now

Halfway through another one of those long hot summers and, thus far, UofL has managed to avoid any of those mid-summer controversies that seemed to plague UofL over the last decade. One of those boring long hot summers, thank goodness.

Six weeks to go, however, keeping the fingers crossed.

College athletics being what they, disruption of the status quo is a constant threat, often lingering beneath the surface, capable of surfacing at any time. No word from the NCAA about the after effects of the FBI probe and how Louisville basketball will be impacted.

The University of Louisville baseball team kept the excitement going until late June, reaching the College World Series for the fifth time in 13 seasons. This time making to college baseball’s final four before losing to Vanderbilt, the eventual national champion.

Not much else for UofL fans to get excited about unless one closely follows  the recruitment on unpredictable teenage athletes. The most significant news has been the announcement from Athletic Director Vince Tyra that approximately 42,000 seats are being painted at Cardinal Stadium this summer.

Apparently the threat of Cardinal Stadium losing the cabooses that emerged in mid-March has gone away. The UofL Athletic Association was threatening not to renew the leases of the 14 cabooses, making only about $15,000 annually in that prime space.

The word from a source close to the situation told Card Game this week that “Maury (Buchart, who owns the cabooses) is keeping them, the U has kinda let it go. too many big donors complained, status quo for a while.”

So that’s good news, at least on the game day atmosphere front. Maybe not so great from the revenue raising side.

Stay tuned. Dog days of summer straight ahead.