There is a theory making the rounds on social media and Louisville fan sites that without the leadership of Tom Jurich, athletics at the University of Louisville is all but dead.
That theory, to but it bluntly, is a load of crap.
Acting school president Greg Postel and chairman of the board of trustees J. David Grissom, the backers of this theory will tell you, hate athletics. They are nothing but snobby academics who want nothing to do with anything that involves anything outside of academic research and progress. There are some who will go a step further into tin foil hat territory and tell you that this is all part of a bigger plan orchestrated by those affiliated with the University of Kentucky, including the governor, to destroy the relevance of the University of Louisville.
Those in charge will do their part to ensure Louisville never hires any coach of note and would be happy with making future coaching picks from the local high school ranks if it saved them a buck. This is what they will tell you before repeating their belief that the future of Louisville athletics lives and dies with Tom Jurich and no one else.
If anyone out there actually believes that, then I have some fantastic oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.
Believe it or not, the corruption that has stained the university for the past three-plus years (that we know of) has been a local and national embarrassment, and there is nothing wrong with wanting a clean start. Yes, Postel and Grissom are academics, as are most in their positions. That doesn’t mean they want to willingly destroy what has been the pulse and biggest asset to the university of the past two decades. They clearly are not fans of Jurich and Pitino, this is clear. Many in the community feel the same way. Does it mean changes will be made, both popular and unpopular? Sure, but that doesn’t equate to some devious conspiracy theory to wipe the university off the face of the planet.
Take a step back and look at all the facilities, the nearly complete football stadium expansion, the YUM! Center, and the history of winning that has been synonymous with Louisville for the last several years. Think about the money that comes with it and what it could be used for. It would be suicidal to abandon athletic success for everything surrounding the university.
Athletics is the reason for joining the ACC, new dorms, new facilities, an increase in tuition (yes, there are students who would probably have no interest in looking at Louisville if not for recognizing the name because of athletics), and more money. Yes, Tom Jurich is the primary reason for that, and he should be recognized for it whether or not he is retained, but all this will exist whether he is back in the athletic offices or not. What he built cannot be destroyed so easily.
These facilities and arenas/stadiums need to be utilized, and if they aren’t, the university no longer has the same appeal or the same money coming in. As such, academics will take a hit just as athletics will.
I’ve seen the Boston College comparison making it’s way to the internet now, too, comparing the two programs. Boston College, they will say, was a prominent athletics program before focusing on academics, and now they are a bottom feeder in a Power Five conference. Without Jurich, Louisville will join them.
Stop right there. Boston College is a private, Jesuit university that has ALWAYS prioritized academics and has a very strict acceptance policy. It’s borderline Ivy League. And athletics-wise, they have nowhere near the caliber of facilities Jurich left Louisville, nor do they have the caliber of programs.
Boston College football has had some good years, but typically they have been in the range of 7-9 wins during their more successful seasons. Their basketball program has been just above mediocre for almost the entirety of its existence. So yeah, just stop with that ridiculous comparison.
Maybe some will recall the days before Tom Jurich. Yep, those days existed. During those days, Louisville basketball spent time as the one of the most dominant programs in the country, winning two national championships (that will stand). Howard Schnellenberger took the football program to national relevance and delivered the program’s first New Year’s Day bowl win.
There is no debating how influential Jurich has been for Louisville. Without him, athletics as a whole (meaning outside of just football and basketball), would be nowhere near where they are now. The facilities fans and students see along trips down Floyd Street would likely not exist. He took Louisville into an entirely new level of success, but he is not infallible. A lot of dirty laundry took place under his watch that humiliated the city and the university, and if he has to answer for it, he has to answer for it. That may or may not mean he has spent his final days at Louisville, but his impact and his legacy will go on. All the facilities will remain in place, and Louisville’s spot in the ACC will remain.
Still not convinced? Still think Louisville is dead? You’ve read the banter on social media supposedly from insider sources predicting the death of Cards athletics, and these sources are too reputable to ignore?
Let me ask you this regarding these insiders. Who exactly do you think is giving them this information and this narrative? Where exactly do you think they sit “inside” to acquire such information? Do you think maybe, just maybe, that the information being fed to them is coming from the only athletic administration Louisville has seen for the past two decades? Do you think that anyone associated with Jurich and/or Rick Pitino would actually offer a sunny forecast for what the program will look like without them? Do you think maybe all this is biased and one-sided scare tactics to force everyone they can to get behind Jurich at all costs?
It’s obvious. Those who want to keep Jurich will do whatever in their power to keep him, and it appears they have resorted to these scare tactics and “the end is nigh” prophecies in an attempt to rally more support. Over the past several years, there have been multiple premonitions that supposedly marked the end of the world, and guess what? The sun still has still risen the next day every time.
“But the donors!” others will say. “They’ll pull their support! They will!” If that is the case, and there truly are big-money donors who will pull support if Jurich is not the retained, then they are not friends of Louisville, only friends of Jurich. Real friends of the university and its program will want to see the programs continue to thrive regardless of who is in charge of athletics and will do their part to ensure that.
Louisville is in for a bumpy ride in the short term, that’s for sure. There has been an abundance of corruption that must be cleaned up for the sake of the future of the program, and it will be cleaned up because, despite what some may be pushing, there is a future for this program.
The program took the hits it deserved to take, and the necessary moves will be made, popular or not. This, however, is not the time to abandon hope. In fact, in the event the sweep is complete and Jurich is not retained, the only logical thing for fans to do is embrace the time to come and hope the right men and women are put in charge to utilize the legacy Jurich created and do so in a way that makes fans of the university proud.
The University of Louisville and its athletics programs will go on, regardless of whose name comes before “Director of Athletics.”