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The Final Say | September 2017

By Zach McCrite

By Zach McCrite

Role Play: If I Were Athletic Director At Louisville

I should be an athletic director.

Well, I guess I should first explain: I am not qualified to be an athletic director at the collegiate level.

Why? Well, I’m not real good at raising money.

You got to be the ringleader of raising a lot of dough when you’re an A.D. I’m just not good at that. I could do it once. One big capital campaign.

But, continuously going “back to the well” would be like going to the dentist for me (no offense, Dr. Fust). Perhaps with practice, I’d be better.

Alas.

For purposes of this space, here is the one and only thing I would do immediately if I, indeed, were athletic director at the University of Louisville, a school that has been a mainstay of the usually-dormant summer sports news cycle.

I would learn to be happy again.

It’s been a tough go for Athletic Director Tom Jurich. But, hey, who doesn’t hit turmoil at their job every once in awhile.

I don’t know what goes on privately there, but publicly, Jurich has come out smelling like a rose far more often in his 20 years at the helm of Cardinal athletics than not.

But then, last month happened.

That’s when WAVE-TV Sports Director Kent Taylor had a one-on-one interview with Jurich in which the A.D. talked about how the last couple of years – between the basketball program’s escort scandal, the UofL Foundation scandal and much more – has been tumultuous.

Jurich was asked if he was happy right now.

“I’m getting there. I’m getting there. It’s been a long couple of years.”

There’s no doubt that things haven’t been all rainbows and lollipops over there. However, life doesn’t seem all that bad at UofL.

It’s not like someone slammed all the way down on the brake pedal and impeded the progress Jurich has made.

Having a national championship banner coming down on your watch is no picnic, and that banner is coming down unless UofL wins what many are calling a “long shot” appeal to the NCAA.

Let’s not be phony, that one will leave a mark.

But, there’s far more in the good column than the bad for Jurich.

The latest evidence are the cranes currently affixed around Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Another expansion for a place that is seemingly always being expanded.

That’s something for which to be happy. That’s something for which to be proud.

College World Series appearances, a Heisman Trophy winner, more fancy athletic facilities and the most profitable college basketball program in the country, right?

I understand always wanting to be better. That’s the kind of drive that made him the respectable, if not legendary, athletic director that he is today.

But, if I were A.D., I would find time every now and again to appreciate what is already there.

You could almost literally trip and fall anywhere on the UofL campus and land on something for which Jurich is responsible, at least in part.

To most fans, Jurich has been given carte blanche to do with the athletic department as he pleases, without as much as a sign-off sheet from the school’s former president on much of the matters at hand.

And that carte blanche equalled Cardinal skyscrapers and success.

However, I’m going to guess where some of his unhappiness lies.

It seems, perhaps, some checks and balances have been put back in place between the athletic department and the university as a whole.

At least, that’s the vibe many got with the introduction of interim president Dr. Greg Postel, who has taken over the mess created, in part, by the school’s former president James Ramsey.

That vibe strengthened among many in the area when Postel apparently decided to spearhead an effort to pay higher rent to the Yum Center for being it’s main tenant.

Why? Well, it seemed that the university got a “sweetheart deal” the first time around that made it tough for the arena to pay off the arena’s $690 million loan.

And that’s not UofL’s fault that it signed that deal. We know that.

That initial deal – a deal put together by Ramsey, Jurich and others – was deemed by one current university trustee as a “bad deal, and we’re paying for that now,” according to a July 20 story from The Courier-Journal.

But, the new lease amendment, led by Postel, was to make sure the Yum! Center could stay afloat financially.

Ensuing reports came out that Postel kept Jurich in the dark about the lease renegotiations. WAVE-TV reported a “source also said the new deal represents a shift in power from the athletics department to the president’s office.”

Although Postel denied that claim, my guess is that’s one reason Jurich happiness at the University of Louisville isn’t at peak levels.

Postel has become a watchdog for the school. And we saw what happened when the school was without one. Not all of it was pretty.

And even if there is a “shift of power” going on at UofL, Jurich has landed on his feet.

Sure, a piece of neatly-knitted cloth may have to come down from the ceiling of a building where basketball is played. But look what’s left? Unwavering support of tens of thousands of Cards fans all over the Commonwealth and surrounding areas.

And, I mean this in the least aggressive manner possible, how many athletic directors around the country would survive the turmoil that, while not directly your doing, happened while on your watch?

Not many, if any at all.

That’s because of the behemoth Jurich is responsible for shepherding.

And I would wager a healthy amount that Jurich will continue to nourish his behemoth – even if he has a watchdog now.

I would be happy with my creation if I were the UofL A.D.

But, alas, it’s back to my recliner for more football.

Where’s my beer?

Want to find Zach on Twitter? Just follow @BigEZ. 

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