Have a Little Faith in Louisville Athletics, Without Tom Jurich

Will the real Louisville fan please stand up?

I’m not Eminem. I’m entirely too confused.

Of whom are you a fan? Are you a fan of Tom Jurich? Are you a fan of the University of Louisville? The two are different. Do you wish the best things for the school you support? Do you wish for whatever gives them the best chance for athletic success? Do you have faith in your school? Do you only have faith if a person is in charge at your school? The two are different. At this point, the distinction has never been more clear.

Will the real Louisville fans please stand up?

There is a power struggle of epic proportions continuing to brew at the University of Louisville. It’s not Campbell’s soup, but it’s filled with a hearty cup of goodness. Politics, egos, big money boosters – it’s all there. Added to this is a split fanbase that has spent more time fighting with one another than doing what fans do best – cheering for their favorite team.

On one side is Tom Jurich, a guy whom some believe is the face of Louisville, the Cardinal Bird itself, and the entire city. On the other is a group who wants to have a breath of fresh air, and in some respects, satisfy their own personal motivations.

It’s a difficult spot for a University to be in. You know this. It’s been a little over a week. It could easily be a month. There isn’t one decision that will fix everything. There isn’t a one-size solution for a mega problem. There is one decision that must be obvious though – Louisville must turn the page. They must get beyond this. They must do this without Athletic Director Tom Jurich.

I didn’t think I would be writing something like this again. I wrote the words on this very website outlining why Tom Jurich had to leave. I won’t list those reasons again. You can read them here if you’d like. Without giving it a second thought, I closed a chapter. Surely Louisville fans have been through enough. Surely the Louisville boosters who, along with their names, put their pocketbooks up for Louisville athletics. Understanding what had to happen next seemed like a gimme. I was wrong.

We’ll call Tuesday the day of the Tom Jurich cry.

It was orchestrated better than an Emmy award-winning movie script. A series of letters to Interim University President Greg Postel appeared online. It started out with Jim Patterson, a big name in the City of Louisville, and an even bigger name in University circles. He listed out a host of the notable Jurich accomplishments, even attributing things such as student-athlete graduation rates to Jurich. Mark Lynn, another prominent name and booster, followed him up with much of the same. Then, as if it were preordained, Jurich’s attorney released a two-page statement that essentially acted as a rallying cry – one that evoked the fanbase to stand up, support and fight to get their Athletic Director back.

It’s absurd. It’s unimaginable. It’s disappointing.

We all deserve better. We all deserve to push ahead with our best foot forward. We all deserve to be just fans (and not law experts) once again.

Let’s address this for a moment, shall we? The bulk of us are Louisville fans or at least have the best interest of Louisville at heart. Shouldn’t the best interest of Louisville also include the entire University, as well as what it represents for the community? If you agree, you can’t truly support a return for the embattled Tom Jurich.

“I enjoy Jurich. As a Louisville fan, I can’t hide that. He’s the man responsible for many Louisville athletic successes and has thus allowed me to celebrate them. But he’s one person. He’s replaceable.”

I enjoy Jurich. As a Louisville fan, I can’t hide that. He’s the man responsible for many Louisville athletic successes and has thus allowed me to celebrate them. But he’s one person. He’s replaceable. The notion among some Louisville fans, and maybe even some Louisville coaches, is that the athletic department will crumble without Jurich leading the way. That’s simply not true. You should believe in your school more.

Inside the Commonwealth, it’s difficult to understand how Louisville is viewed across the country. I get that. It makes total sense. I can spell it out for you though: Louisville is viewed as a laughing stock. Bring Jurich back, and the laughing gets louder. The school is in dire need of an image repair and it can only happen with a clean house.

This discussion though, at the end of the day, shouldn’t be built around perception.

Being beholden to the opinion of others is part of what got Louisville in this mess, to begin with.

This is about the overall ethics of the University of Louisville. At the helm, Jurich oversaw repeat NCAA violations in multiple sports. He led that culture of recklessness. The University let that same guy turn a blind eye to students. He freely used cash in places of his choosing, instead of places it could have better been used (see the Louisville Student newspaper). In the dark, he brokered a deal with the school’s flagship brand of Adidas. This, of course, was the same way he had operated during his Louisville tenure – unquestioned. You can’t spell ‘full-autonomy’ without ‘Tom,’ I suppose. Might be a reason for that.

Louisville must move forward. They must hit the reset button and start another chapter. They can’t do that with Tom Jurich. Thinking otherwise is just limiting the University to the reset button, not another chapter.

Photo credit: AP