Dan McDonnell had reason to be down following the conclusion of the University of Louisville baseball team’s regular season. The Cardinals finished with a 31-24 won-lost record but were a dismal 10-20 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
UofL not only failed to make the NCAA tournament but also fell short of qualifying for the conference tournament. The first time since 1970 that the program has not participated in conference post-season play.
Such a disappointment for Louisville fans eager to forget the frustration and inadequacies of the lack of competitiveness during the basketball season. They could always count of the UofL baseball team for better results. At least they could in the past. Not this season, enjoying a minimum of highlights from a program that has been the College World Series five times in the past 17 years.
McDonnell expressed disappointment that the University has not followed through on steps the coach feels are necessary for the baseball program to remain a national competitor. The most obvious is a lack of progress on an indoor baseball practice facility. The possibility was first mentioned by former Athletic Director Vince Tyra at the 2020 Lead Off Banquet.
A year later the Kroger Company announced a $3 million commitment to the facility. Jim Patterson followed with a significant gift to upgrade the entrance to the stadium that bears his name. The stadium entrance has been modernized but three years after the initial announcement, but there has been little public discussion in recent months on the status of practice facility project.
Which leads one to believe that the project has been placed on the back burner. A project that McDonnell believes is essential to the development of young players during the winter months. In the recent past, i.e., during the Tom Jurich era, a project would be announced, fundraising would begin immediately, the money would quickly be raised, and ribbon-cutting ceremonies would follow.
No evidence of anything resembling a fast track for this one. The lack of progress on this project, combined with the shortcoming of the season that just ended, makes people wonder how much Dan McDonnell will tolerate. Especially with job openings at places like Alabama, which just fired its baseball coach recently.
McDonnell, who has just concluded his 17th season at UofL, said he and his family love this community. “I always expect to be here but I’m not going to shy away,” he said. “I have been very vocal and challenging over the past 12 months. Look at the writing on the wall, look at where this program has been.
“We want to be here, we love it here, but I want to work for people and be with people, who want to win as well. Don’t tell me you want to win, show me you want to win. That all I ask for, our fans ask for that. You promise it was going to be different. I want to be at a place that is committed to winning baseball.”
The UofL baseball coach obviously has been disappointed at the slow pace of change, coming at a time that coincides with changes in player compensation and new transfer rules. Neither of which makes fundraising efforts any easier for a university already needing to make significant changes in its flagship basketball and football programs.
Dan McDonnell has been patient but his patience obviously has its limits.